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Joey BunchJoey BunchSeptember 3, 20179min920

The news of the week in Colorado Politics ran to and from Washington, with the visit of congressional Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, while Gov. John Hickenlooper made a pitch to Washington on healthcare.

These are the stories out staff thinks you should keep in mind in the days and weeks ahead:

El Paso County GOP Chair Trevor Dierdorff (Jerilee Bennett/The Gazette)

5. Dierdorff, we hardly knew you

Trevor Dierdorff came in as a “political outsider,” and now he’s headed back outside. He said in an e-mail Thursday he’s stepping down as chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party, the GOP’s largest county chapter. Dierdorff said he wants to focus on his family and business.

Read the full story here.

 

In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi is advising fellow Democrats to change their cellphone numbers and not let family members read their text messages after personal and official information of Democratic House members and congressional staff was posted online. Pelosi says in a letter to Democrats that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate the hacking of the committee's computers. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

4. Pelosi tells women to grab their greatness against Trump

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was in Denver last week to speak on an Emerge Colorado panel. She said women should fight back against President Trump by running for office and seizing their power.

Read the full story here.

 

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, answers a question about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, answers a question about his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act at a town hall meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017, at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

3. Gardner says there’s Colorado gold in cybersecurity

As the World Wide Web becomes an increasingly dangerous place for individuals, businesses, governments and elections, cybersecurity is an increasingly vital industry, says Sen. Cory Gardner. Colorado is well-positioned to cash in.

Read the full story here.

 

BLM Public Lands
Lance Benzel of Colorado Springs climb over a rock slab Tuesday, April 29, 2014, while mountain biking the Oil Well Flats trail area north of Canon City. (Photo by Christian Murdock/The Gazette)

2. Washington West — could this really happen?

Momentum is building to relocate the federal headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation from D.C. to Denver. That would get them closer to the vast majority of assets they protect, but can Colorado politicos close the deal?

Read the full story here.

 

 In this June 27, 2017, file photo, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, right, joined by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, speaks during a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)

1. Governors roll out HickCare

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper teamed up with Ohio Gov. John Kasich to present a bipartisan healthcar

In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi is advising fellow Democrats to change their cellphone numbers and not let family members read their text messages after personal and official information of Democratic House members and congressional staff was posted online. Pelosi says in a letter to Democrats that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate the hacking of the committee's computers. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
In this Aug. 11, 2016, photo, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Pelosi is advising fellow Democrats to change their cellphone numbers and not let family members read their text messages after personal and official information of Democratic House members and congressional staff was posted online. Pelosi says in a letter to Democrats that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has hired a cybersecurity firm to investigate the hacking of the committee’s computers. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

e proposal for Congress to consider when it returns from its August recess next week. The proposal preserves the individual mandate to buy health insurance, but it strengthens the partnership between state and federal government on the issue. Will it fly? We’ll find out next week when Hick goes to Washington to present it.

Read the full story here.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchAugust 30, 20176min1140

Grassroots support is growing in Colorado for a possible U.S. Department of the Interior plan to move the headquarters of three federal agencies to Denver.

The plan would be an economic efficiency move at a time the administration of President Donald Trump is being accused of ignoring environmentalists and allowing private industry to overdevelop government-owned property.

A relocation of three agencies to Denver was first reported by E&E News, an online site that reports on energy and environmental issues.

Zinke reportedly suggested moving the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation away from Washington, D.C., to Denver. All three of them are overseen by the Interior Department.

A location closer to the sites where they perform most of their operations on federal property would make them more effective, Zinke reportedly said during a July meeting with U.S. Geological Survey executives in Denver.

Zinke is preparing a reorganization and downsizing of the Interior Department tentatively scheduled to begin in 2019.

The relocation suggestion won quick agreement from organizations that operate close to federal lands in Colorado.

Don Shawcroft, president of Colorado Farm Bureau, said he would like to see regulatory relief come from a move of the federal agencies to Colorado.

“We feel this will create needed reforms to federal regulations that have been driven by Beltway bureaucrats who don’t see firsthand the impacts of overburdensome rulemaking,” Shawcroft said.

Diane Schwenke, president of the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce, said moving the three Interior Department agencies to Colorado would put them closer to their “stakeholders outside the Beltway, like many of us in Colorado, where our local economies are closely tied to the management decisions they make.”

The Bureau of Land Management is the largest of the three agencies with 11,621 permanent employees. It administers more than 247.3 million acres of public lands, or one-eighth of the nation’s land mass.

Most of the land is located in 12 Western states that include Colorado.

The Bureau of Land Management is supposed to protect the wildlife, natural resources and national monuments on public lands. Private development is allowed through permits.

Ranchers hold nearly 18,000 permits to graze livestock on public lands. Other permits and leases allow oil and gas companies to operate about 63,000 wells on government property.

A Trump administration policy that eases restrictions on oil and gas leases drew a recent warning from the Coalition to Protect America’s Parks, a nonprofit organization of retired National Park Service employees.

“As former land managers, we understand the need to balance competing priorities,” the coalition wrote in a letter to the Interior Department secretary. “But we fear the pendulum is swinging too far to the side of development.”

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation manages the nation’s water resources and operates hydroelectric power plants in western states.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforces laws to protect the nation’s fish, wild animals and their natural habitats while promoting environmental conservation programs.

Colorado organizations that support moving the agencies west were most interested in the economic benefits.

“The Colorado Wool Growers Association is definitely supportive of the effort to move these agencies to Denver,” said Bonnie Brown, executive director of the Delta-based association. “There is oftentimes a disconnect between [Washington] D.C. staff and what is actually happening on the ground. Having staff live and work near the resources they manage is just common sense.”

She acknowledged that the costs of moving federal agencies away from Washington could be large but added, “The short term transition costs should be offset by the long term savings.”

Kent Singer, executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association, said he liked the idea of moving the agencies to Colorado but wondered whether Grand Junction might be a better choice than Denver.

”When we spoke with our congressional delegation during a legislative trip to Washington D.C. in April, we had suggested the Western Slope of Colorado would be an ideal place for the [Bureau of Land Management],” Singer said. “One of the benefits of a [Bureau of Land Management] move to the Western Slope would be job opportunities in that part of the state.”

Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, including Republicans Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton, have previously advocated moving the Bureau of Land Management to Colorado.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirAugust 30, 20175min2240
Lesli Allison

As Congress returns from the August recess, many questions remain about the future of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recently, the House Natural Resources Committee heard a series of legislative proposals addressing the program’s effectiveness, implementation, and even the legitimacy of the Act itself. While opinions about the ESA vary widely, Western Landowners Alliance believes it is in our common interest as a nation to preserve the intent and integrity of the Act, while improving the way in which it is implemented. Just as the ESA was originally adopted with strong bipartisan support, we also need a collaborative and bipartisan process to improve outcomes for both people and wildlife.

We also believe that real and enduring solutions will only be found through constructive partnerships with the farmers and ranchers who own and manage the working landscapes upon which the majority of our wildlife depend. The West is a checkerboard of public and private lands and wildlife species have never shown great deference to fences segregating these landscapes. As such, management of those species is often a shared responsibility between the states and private landowners. This quazi co-management becomes more difficult and complicated when species become listed as threatened or endangered, at which point the species falls under the management of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). FWS’s involvement generally results in regulatory restrictions to land use which can disproportionately impact landowners, particularly those who have kept land open and able to support wildlife when human development and activity have displaced them elsewhere. So, what should Congress consider as they seek to improve the ESA?

First and foremost, we need to elevate dialogue on the management and conservation of our lands and natural resources above the level of partisan rhetoric and tweets. It’s too important, and the issues involved are too complex. Congress must work across the aisle and with all key stakeholders in a thoughtful, collaborative process designed not to gut regulations, but to improve efficiency and outcomes for people and wildlife.

Second, focus should be on increasing proactive, voluntary actions that keep species from becoming imperiled in the first place and helping those that are spurring recovery more quickly. Up to 80 percent of wildlife species rely on private land for survival. Landowners can and should be engaged as partners. This means implementing the ESA in a way that recognizes and supports those who maintain habitat and manage for species conservation and recovery. Strategic investments up front can save tremendous costs, reduce regulation and better support both people and wildlife than waiting until species are on the brink of extinction.

Finally, collaboration and flexibility are essential in the management and conservation of our working landscapes, which provide both for wildlife and also for many human needs. In these complex landscapes, land use and conservation must be integrated and circumstances change continuously through time. This means we have to work together in an ongoing process of adaptive management and we need relationships built on trust to succeed. Congress can both set an example and also provide the institutional frameworks and targeted funding to better support place-based, collaborative management.

At the end of the day, land, natural resources and biodiversity make our existence possible. Through increased collaboration and smart investments, we can manage these resources responsibly and in a manner that does not jeopardize the livelihood of those putting food on our tables. It doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.



Joey BunchJoey BunchApril 5, 20173min36
Jaguars haven’t made it to Colorado yet, unless you count the fat wallets in Aspen, Telluride and Cherry Creek. But in the Four Corners the big, fast predators with big, sharp claws are local news this week. In its local news section, the Cortez Journal has an Associated Press story about three jaguars spotted in southern […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirApril 3, 20172min29
The loved and loathed Preble’s meadow jumping mouse was thought to be on its way to extinction when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared it “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1998. Of course, the designation assumed the critter really was a distinct species in the first place. And there’s the rub: Critics of the nearly two-decade-old […]

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Rachael WrightRachael WrightMarch 23, 201711min48

Thirty Years Ago This Week in the Colorado Statesman … Arapahoe County and the City of Aurora were witnessing a dramatic increase in trash production within their jurisdictions, generated by their accumulating residents thanks to the large population boom. Meanwhile, land developers were seeking to eliminate the biggest resource for trash disposal, the Denver-Arapahoe disposal site at the Lowry Landfill, to make way for further development — and they set their sights on lobbying the Colorado Department of Health — heavily. Sounds like a clash waiting to happen, right?


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Tom RamstackTom RamstackDecember 21, 20169min94

The $618.7 billion defense spending bill signed by President Barack Obama opens the way for the site of the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal to be redeveloped with retail outlets and housing. The site, owned by Commerce City for more than a decade, has been used mostly for a wildlife refuge since a $2.1 billion federal Superfund cleanup. Previously, it was used as a chemical weapons manufacturing facility. Commerce City Mayor Sean Ford said housing planned for the Victory Crossing land “aligns with the city’s vision to create a one-of-a-kind space for the community to gather as well as make a home.”