2011 Colorado legislation: The Colorado Department of Wildlife agrees to look at water projects

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From the Summit County Citizen’s Voice (Bob Berwyn):

The five-year program was announced a few weeks after State Rep. Jon Becker (R-Fort Morgan) proposed a bill that would have diverted revenue from hunting and fishing licenses to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The wildlife agency now says it will work with Becker to explore opportunities that will first and foremost benefit wildlife and wildlife recreation, but will also help other entities and individuals who depend on water resources in the state.

“In the face of budget issues that are creating challenges throughout state government, it is especially challenging to plan for increasing water demand while protecting natural resources over the long term,” Department of Natural Resources director Mike King said. “There is a lot of overlap between healthy wildlife habitat and what sportsmen and agricultural communities need. We welcome the opportunity to combine these goals and find ways to make limited state funding go further.”

“We have several critical water development needs, such as repairing the dam at Beaver Reservoir to allow us to store water again,” said Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington. ”We also have some great opportunities, such as reaching a storage agreement with Rio Grande Reservoir operators to store Division of Wildlife water critical to our needs in the San Luis Valley.”

More coverage from The Fort Morgan Times (Marianne Goodland):

The bill’s [HB 11-1150] problem, and Becker`s too, was that diverting the money from DOW would have cost the agency $200 million over the next 10 years in federal funds. That money, according to DOW, funds hunter and aquatic education, sportfish and wildlife restoration, and boating access. Lisa Dale of DOW told this reporter that the money represents 25 percent of the division`s annual funding. Losing it “would have touched everything we do,” she said. And that put Becker on the radar for hunters and fishermen and women, and not in a good way, and as a result HB 1150 faced a probable defeat on Monday. Instead, Becker got a little help from Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, and the cooperation of a new Citizen`s Wildlife Advisory Council that Sonnenberg heads. Sonnenberg told this reporter that he made sure the “right people were in the right room at the right time” to hammer out the issues, and eventually, the agreement.

More 2011 Colorado legislation coverage here.

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