Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner makes a stop in Rifle during visits to western Garfield County
Rifle residents and business members packed the Rifle area Chamber of Commerce office Monday during their lunch hour to visit with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner as he made a swing through northwest Colorado earlier this week.
Gardner, who running for re-election in 2020, is from Yuma on the Eastern Plains. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.
“Areas like Rifle and Yuma defined me growing up — there is life outside of the (Interstate) 25 corridor in Colorado,” Gardner said about what drove him into public service.
“It’s not just about the Front Range.”
More than 30 people gathered to listen to Gardner talk about what he is currently working on and what he has done to help the state of Colorado.
Gardner said Colorado needed a champion for all four corners of the state, not just the Front Range.
“I actually got a call from his office last week saying that they were going to be doing a tour at Natural Soda, and he wanted to stop by the chamber office and meet with me and some of our community members,” said Tanya Doose, CEO and director of Your Chamber serving the Colorado River Valley.
Doose said it was a huge honor for the area to have a United States senator stop at the chamber offices on Railroad Avenue.
During his nearly hour-long visit Gardner talked about what he is working on in the senate to help rural communities like Rifle thrive. He sees Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs thriving and wants the same for small-town Colorado.
“We need to make sure places like Rifle and places throughout western Colorado are also thriving as well,” Gardner said.
“For the Eastern Plains and the Western Slope agriculture continues to be an important part of who we are.”
Gardner also said he is working with foreign relations to open up new trade opportunities and avenues on the energy and natural resources side.
During the stop, Gardner also hit on protecting public lands and his part in helping move the BLM headquarters to Grand Junction.
“Out of the 245 million acres of land managed by the BLM, 99 percent they oversee is west of the Mississippi,” Gardner said.
“That’s why I thought it so important that we move the Bureau of Land Management Headquarters to Colorado.”
The Republican senator also talked about his work with county commissioners on the resource side recently on success of Anvil Points.
“Some may remember Anvil Points, some may not remember because it happened so many years ago. It was an agreement on a cleanup site of an old oil shale research site, that if there was money left after the cleanup was over, then that money would return to the people who owned that money in the first place, and that’s you,” Gardner told the crowd.
“For over a decade after the cleanup had happened, the money had just sat there, this year we were able to get that money returned.”
The funding for the cleanup came from oil and gas lease revenues generated in Garfield, Rio Blanco, Moffatt and Mesa counties. Approximately $18 million was distributed to western Colorado.
Gardner said they were able to get this done thanks to the help from current Secretary David Bernhardt, a Rifle native who was deputy secretary at the time.
Gardner took a few questions from those in attendance before he headed to the next stop on his tour of western and northwest Colorado.
“It’s just such an honor to be here, because you know without a successful thriving main street, our communities are going to be hurting,” Gardner said.
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