Vagneur: We have a friend in the Colorado House with Perry Will
I’d done it before — call the DOW (Department of Wildlife, now morphed into Colorado Parks and Wildlife CPW), tell ‘em I needed some certified weed-free hay, and the guy on the other end saying, “Take what you need, and leave a check in the tractor in the hay shed.” How hard is that?
The third year I called, the number didn’t seem to work, but, since I’d done that particular transaction a couple of times before, I felt like I knew the process. I drove to the DOW headquarters up Divide Creek, couldn’t find the tractor, and headed to the secret spot where the weed-free hay was stacked, thinking I’d drop the check off at the office on my way out.
I’d just gotten my 10 bales loaded, when a guy came up on the driver’s side of the truck, totally unannounced and surprised the hell out of me. A big fellow with a beauty of a handlebar moustache and wearing a uniform.
In a smiling, very nice but firm way, he wanted to know what kind of mission I was on. Giving him the same story I’ve just given you, he said something to the effect, “I don’t know who you’ve been talking to, but I’m pretty sure no one had the authority to sell you some of our hay. We use that for our own purposes.”
“Uh-oh.” This was ugly. It appeared I was attempting to steal some hay, was being busted by the big man in charge, even though I did have the pre-written check to show him. We had a good conversation about the hay, who might have been working a sweetheart deal, figuring what might have gone awry, and he nailed it right away.
He introduced himself, as did I, and, before it was over, he said, “Don’t bother unloading that hay. I think you’ve earned it.”
That was my introduction to Perry Will, now a member of the Colorado House of Representatives, House District 57, which includes the Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen, and Pitkin County. In the way of the world, Perry and I became friends that day, although we never talked again until a few years later. While still with CPW, and before becoming our state representative, a couple of issues came up in Woody Creek involving open space, elk migration corridors, and development.
At my request, Perry Will and Kevin Wright showed up, defending wildlife while pointing out the intrinsic value of biodiversity in Pitkin County. Over a two-year period, they showed up for different issues, top-line guys on the front line of protecting wildlife, riparian areas and open space. Perry worked for CPW for over 40 years.
He is a stand-up guy who doesn’t give out any political gibberish about needing a new plan to go forward or grandiose ideas about what he’d do if elected. He’s been out there in the district, living it, doing his job day after day, getting increased funding for firefighters, working to cut down on water use by appropriating funds for the voluntary replacement of irrigated turf, keeping the Homestead Exemption Act in place for seniors, naming April the Sexual Assault Awareness Month, sponsored a bill encouraging the implementation and use of geothermal energy similar to how we implement solar energy, wildfire mitigation for private property owners.
I could go on. Over 24 bills he has sponsored in a little over two years. Whew!
Will is the one person who has proven he can stand up to the powerful Eastern Slope water interests, letting them know that further growth on their side doesn’t (and won’t) mean more water from our side.
Like a breath of fresh air, he acknowledges that Colorado may be flirting with killing the Golden Goose. Our forests are under assault, our elk and deer herds have been facing tough times, and we need to be cognizant of how we manage recreation going into the future.
If you fancy yourself an environmentalist, a hiker, an angler, a hunter, or someone who likes nothing more than viewing the beautiful backdrop that surrounds our green valley, Perry Will is your best friend in the Colorado House.
I know Perry Will has my back. Let him have yours, too, by re-electing him to House District 57!
Tony Vagneur writes here on Saturdays and welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.