John Salazar will manage public lands the right way
Coloradans interested in the future our state’s wildlife and desiring a healthy natural environment now have a clear choice for Congress in John Salazar. His opponent, Greg Walcher, as director of the Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the Division of Wildlife, regularly promoted his political agenda which frequently conflicted with the interests of our wildlife. During his tenure I was the chief information officer for the DOW on the West Slope.As director of DNR, Walcher supported Referendum A which would have diverted unlimited West Slope water to the Front Range. The potential of this to devastate our wildlife’s habitat on the West Slope was considerable. Fortunately concerned Coloradans defeated it.When the White River National Forest Management Plan was released, the Forest Service recommended the “Wildlife Alternative” be adopted. It was the first forest plan in the which the protection of wildlife habitat was a major consideration. Greg Walcher’s official state response letter blasted the plan saying it would block the development of motorized recreation (the greatest threat to wildlife habitat) and limit the potential expansion of the Vail ski resort.Nowhere in the letter did he mention wildlife or wildlife habitat or thank the Forest Service for its protection of our state’s wildlife. An editorial in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Jan. 8) remarked, “Walcher’s micromanagerial penchant was manifest in a variety of ways. Spiking (removing) comments from wildlife biologists prepared for inclusion in the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan was but one example.”The most critical message the DOW has been promoting for the last 30 years is the threat of continuing loss of habitat to the future of our wildlife.We cannot maintain healthy wildlife populations while promoting unlimited development. Greg Walcher personally directed me not to mention the issue without direct permission from his office. The first time I requested it, he denied it.As a Denver Post editorial (Jan. 8) commented, “But Walcher’s tenure was hallmarked by repeated attempts to muzzle wildlife biologists who warned against unbridled energy development in pristine areas.”Fortunately we have a strong alternative for our representation in Congress in the person of John Salazar. Salazar has shown a strong interest in managing public lands in a way that protects wildlife habitat while still allowing for the development of appropriate recreation. He has announced his support of the plan to manage the Roan Plateau, north of Rifle, that has been endorsed by local communities and the Garfield County Commissioners.He has shown a much more balanced approach toward managing our public lands for the benefit of the people and the wildlife.D. Geoffrey Tischbein was the chief information officer for the DOW on the West Slope for 27 years.D. Geoffrey Tischbein was the chief information officer for the DOW on the West Slope for 27 years.
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