Russ George the right choice for DNR director |

Russ George the right choice for DNR director

Gov. Bill Owens, not known for a benevolent attitude toward Colorado’s environment or wildlife, made the very wise move last Friday of appointing Rifle native Russell George as executive director of the state Department of Natural Resources.

George, a well-known and trusted face for Garfield County residents, was the clear and best choice for the cabinet position.

A Boettcher scholar, Harvard graduate, country lawyer, state legislator and Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives, George has gone on to lead the Colorado Division of Wildlife since 2000. He has mended many of the rifts between the agency and the Legislature, and restored confidence among DOW employees.

When Greg Walcher announced his intention to step down from the top job at the Department of Natural Resources to run for Congress, Owens looked to George, a strong mediator and deep thinker, to fill the key position.

George will oversee eight divisions, 15 state boards and 2,500 workers in agencies that matter most to Colorado residents. These are the offices that govern gas development, wildlife, water, parks, mining and forests.

The George appointment will be good for the whole state, but particularly so for western Garfield County residents.

As gas drilling continues, George should push to change state policies in order to give private landowners and users of public lands a stronger hand in making sure that drilling is done right. He worked hard toward that goal during his years in the Legislature.

George is now in a key position to initiate administrative changes that can better balance the need for gas with preserving the natural environment and rural lifestyles.

Gov. Owens should listen carefully to his newest cabinet member, and support the changes he champions.

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