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DNR Direct
 2021 Employee Newsletter 
Executive Director's Corner
A Message from Dan to DNR Employees

Well we have reached the end of another year. In looking back it has certainly been challenging but filled with accomplishment and perseverance. Below are some of our Department's highlights, which is something to be proud about and celebrate. 

But this year has also been one of reflection and loss, including the passing of several cherished members of DNR’s family.

Briefly I want to recognize a few recent losses:

Mike Trujillo, CPW, Area Wildlife Manager for Area 11 in Pueblo.  Mike worked for CPW for 31 years, and was an exceptional individual, colleague, friend, husband, father and grandfather.  As Director Prenzlow put it, “Mike was one of the unsung heroes who worked for years behind the scenes to the benefit of both people and our resources.

He was a strong advocate of expanding hunting opportunities. He helped with our efforts to reintroduce wildlife like black-footed ferrets on the Walker Ranch and bighorn sheep in the canyons along the Purgatoire River. 

Mike touched a lot of our lives within this organization and is greatly missed - and I want to acknowledge his exemplary service to our State." 

                              

Wendy Schultz, COGCC, Finance Manager, passed away last month. Wendy retired in February 2020, came back to help part-time, and celebrated round 2 of retirement in early 2021. 

COGCC Director, Julie Murphy relayed how important and valued Wendy was to the organization:


"Wendy Schultz was a dear friend and colleague and will be deeply missed by all those who worked with her at COGCC, where she served as the Finance Manager for 15 years. Wendy's commitment to detail, smile and compassion for others made our office a better place. We truly miss our friend, Wendy." 

John Van Oort, DWR, Division 2 River Operations Coordinator: Kevin Rein, our State Engineer and DWR Director,  said it best about John: 

“John was a highly competent, dedicated professional who had dedicated so much of himself to the water users of the Arkansas River Basin.  John was not the Division Engineer or the Assistant Division Engineer, but we all recognize when someone is at the hub of making so many things work. 

He was that perfect combination of being a knowledgeable expert and at the same time, patient at explaining administrative nuances.  

Even as we deal with the loss, let's all recognize the impact John had on the highly-effective water administration in Division 2 and the impact of his human character on those of us that had the privilege of knowing him.”

  

Please keep Mike, Mindy, and John and their families in your thoughts and prayers. 

For those who have suffered loss the holidays can be a tough time of year.  If feeling overwhelmed or in need, I would encourage you to seek out these Seasonal Stress Resources provided by CSEAP. They are there for you for precisely these times.  

Finally, I also want to thank everyone for following the Governor’s directive for vaccinations and testing.   Boosters are now available for all DNR employees and I would encourage you to get yours to provide that extra level of protection, particularly with new COVID variants on the rise.  There is currently not a state or DNR policy or directive regarding proof of booster shots, so please hold on to your booster documentation at this time. 

Thank you to all DNR employees for your incredible hard work over the past year.  In so many ways the year started out bleak with the pandemic still clearly stifling our state.  But as vaccines arrived it seemed our efforts took on new energy,  with a legislative session and accomplishments we haven’t seen in decades.  I sincerely hope you are able to spend the holiday season with friends and family, to relax and reflect on your own personal successes.  

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

Tell Me About Your Innovative Idea

Do you have a suggestion to make your corner of DNR run more efficiently?  Willing to share that innovative idea you have been turning over in your head that would make your job easier, your divisions mission better while saving Coloradans money?  I want to hear from you!  Drop me an email on your great idea and lets talk!
In this Issue

DNR 2021 Accomplishments
DNR Employee Virtual Town Hall
COVID-19 Update & Vaccines Update
Budget
State and Federal Stimulus
Human Resources/Operations/Payroll/Accounting/Procurement
IT Updates
Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategies at Work
DNR Nominees for Tom Clements Better Government Award 
Divisions
Close
DNR 2021 Accomplishments:

Members of DNR's leadership team and staff recently met with Governor Polis to discuss 2021 DNR accomplishments and ongoing programmatic and operational needs.  We also engaged in a lively and informative discussion with the Governor in a question and answer section.  Below are some of the DNR accomplishments highlighted during the meeting:  
 


Colorado Parks and Wildlife
  • Colorado's 42nd and 43rd State Parks: Fisher’s Peak State Park and State Park at Sweetwater Lake in-process
     
  • Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced the appointment of the inaugural Colorado Outdoor Equity Board. The board, created by the passage of House Bill 21-1318, is composed of nine members representing communities that have faced barriers to accessing Colorado’s outdoors and are responsible for the governance of the Outdoor Equity Grant program.
     
  • More than 19 million State Park visits
     
  • Added almost 200,000 acres to the public access program & reached goal of adding 1 million acres
     
  • Kicked off Regional Partnerships and balancing Conservation and Recreation Plan
     
  • Increasing CPW Revenues - Implementing Keep CO Wild Pass
     
  • Completing gray wolf reintroduction public process/listening sessions and start work on developing reintroduction plan. 
     
  • CPW/Keystone: engaged more than 3,400 participants through 47 meetings and an online comment form in the summer of 2021. (Meetings included 16 in-person public open houses throughout the state; 17 in-person, Western Colorado geographic focus groups; 10 virtual interest-based focus groups; 2 inperson Tribal consultations; and 2 virtual town halls and 6 meetings a piece of Stakeholder Advisory Group and Technical Working Group.)

Colorado Water Conservation Board
  • Update to Water Plan making good progress
     
  • Water Equity Task Force nearing recommendations
     
  • Provided $60 million in loans & $15 million in grants for water projects around the state
     
  • Completed a 2 year statewide comprehensive water loss training for water providers through the Colorado Water Loss Initiative in 2020
     
  • Appropriated 6 instream flow rights covering 36 miles of streams
     
  • Continued acquisition of LIDAR throughout the state in pursuit of full up-to-date state coverage
     
  • Continued coordination of watershed recovery activities associated with 2018 and 2020 wildfires

Division of Water Resources
  • Conducted a reservoir release test on the west slope to identify and examine issues related to compact administration operations
     
  • Conducting several public and virtual meetings on new measurement rule rulemaking in NW Colorado and designating Yampa River as over-appropriated
     
  • Implemented additional changes to the Well Inspection Program and Board of Examiners rules and operating policies to resolve issues identified in the audit
     
  • Approved 4 new Groundwater Annual Replacement Plans and 6 recurring plans in the Rio Grande Basin
     
  • Successfully migrated to an online application and payment system for permitting activities and migrated all forms to online submission. 

COGCC
  • Continues to accomplish the requirements of SB 181, and is currently working on the Financial Assurance and Rulemakings.
     
  • Implemented flowline rules
     
  • Implemented wellbore integrity rules
     
  • Issued Mission Change rules
     
  • Accomplished goal of increasing Orphaned Well Program activity from 61 sites per year to at least 100 sites per year 

Division of Reclamation, Mining, and Safety
  • Responded to and mitigated 4 coal mine fire emergencies
     
  • Implemented electronic permitting for all coal mines and starting ePermitting pilot for all hardrock and construction material mines
     
  • Conducted 52 inspections of high priority hard rock mines and high priority construction materials sites.

State Land Board
  • Eleven consecutive years of more than $100 million in annual trust revenues
     
  • Worked with energy and agriculture sector representatives including the National Renewable Energy Lab, the Colorado Energy Office, the Department of Agriculture, and CSU to develop and apply a methodology to locate large-scale solar facilities on state trust land. 
     
  • Worked with partners including NextEra Energy and Leeward Energy to begin construction of more than 300 megawatts of wind and solar energy capacity on State Trust Land. Once complete, these projects will increase the amount of renewable energy projects on State Trust Land to 10% of all projects in Colorado
     
  • Affordable housing projects underway

Division of Forestry
  • Shared Stewardship/RMRI is addressing landscape-level investments in forest health
     
  • New Forest Health Council created and kicked-off
     
  • DNR leading new Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) to further investments in fire mitigation and forest health
     
  • $6.4M in FRWRM has been disbursed for forest health projects  to 42 applicants in 25 counties.
 
Colorado Avalanche Information Center
  • New products coming on line:
     
  • Training CO State Patrol
     
  • Weekly Highway Outlook 
     
  • Statewide Weekly Outlook
 DNR Employee Virtual Town Hall

Thank you to those who participated in our November Town Hall.  Some of the information we talked about then has changed, there were a lot of good questions and dialogue from DNR employees.  See the video from the Virtual Town Hall below and questions and answers are linked here in case you missed some of the answers during the Town Hall. 



                 

Previous DNR Virtual Town Hall videos and Q&A’s, can be found on our DNR Intranet (look for DNR Town Hall Button).  

Next DNR Employee Virtual Town Hall
 

Please join us for our next DNR Employee Virtual Town Hall:

Date: February 8, 2022
Time: 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM

https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86851160418?pwd=SDhjSHlUaVFWTlk1U3hJanV5NCs3QT09

Meeting ID: 868 5116 0418
Passcode: JA0tB3

Dial In:
1 408 638 0968 
1 669 900 6833 

Meeting ID: 868 5116 0418
Passcode: 852190

Please submit any questions you may have in advance to our DNR Virtual Town Hall Questionnaire.  We will answer a few questions on the call but we will also compile all questions and provide answers in a Q&A doc in the next newsletter.  Also, please ask questions during the Town Hall by raising your hand in the zoom meeting or participating in the zoom chat.  Also, Share your Rock Star or One DNR Story to nominate Rock Stars or to nominate teams that exemplify the One DNR vision.

COVID-19 & Vaccines Update
 

Any new hires (temporary or permanent) should begin reporting their vaccination status to DNR_HR_COVID19@state.co.us  once they receive their employee ID where HR will ensure that their status is updated in our records.  If you are a hiring manager of a temporary employee who may not have access to state sponsored email/communications, please direct them to this inbox so we can ensure that their record is updated. 

Budget
 

The Department’s FY 2022-23 budget proposal was submitted as part of the Governor's budget in November 2021, and is officially under consideration by the Joint Budget Committee (JBC). The budget is the product of days, weeks, and months of hard work by the Department’s budget and leadership teams, whose efforts are greatly appreciated. DNR’s FY 2022-23 request totals $353.2 million and 1,549.5 FTE, and includes increases to support outdoor recreation and conservation initiatives, to protect and manage the state’s scarce water resources, and to expand outreach and engagement on important natural resources issues.

The budget request includes the following increases for outdoor recreation and conservation:

  • A significant investment and staff support for CPW to advance the goals of the Future Generations Act and respond to increased demand for outdoor recreation;

  • Additional resources for grant funding and staff support for the Colorado Outdoor Regional Partnerships to help balance conservation and recreation; 

  • Continued investments in infrastructure and maintenance at state parks and state wildlife areas, and

  • A federal stimulus proposal to secure high-quality broadband internet access at rural state parks and surrounding areas.

DNR’s request makes significant capacity investments in DNR’s high-priority water programs, including:

  • Permanent regional and administrative support staff for the CWCB Water Plan Grant Program;

  • Additional water accounting coordinators in DWR;

  • A water portfolio manager position to help the State Land Board manage its extensive portfolio of water rights; and

  • A request for federal stimulus funds to support groundwater recovery in the Republican and Rio Grande Basins in partnership with the Department of Agriculture.

The request also supports engagement and outreach efforts on important natural resources issues with the inclusion of:

  • An Assistant Director for Energy Innovation in EDO to coordinate and engage proactively on a wide range of current and emerging energy issues; and

  • Funding for the Colorado Wildlife Council to continue their education and outreach efforts to increase awareness about hunting and fishing in Colorado.

The DNR completed the next step in the budget process recently with a successful hearing in front of the JBC: the six member committee tasked with reviewing each department’s budget and request items in detail and building the budget. There is still a long way to go before the budget request becomes effective on July 1, 2022, and some things will likely change, but we’ll keep you posted every step of the way.

State and Federal Stimulus

To date, DNR (and partner agencies) received a total investment of $130 million in state stimulus funds primarily focused in three major areas: $65 million for wildfire mitigation, recovery, and restoration (includes CWCB watershed restoration funds); $45 million for public lands and outdoor recreation, and $20 million for water plan implementation.

DNR is continuing to work with the Governor's Office on the potential allocation of American Rescue Plan Act federal stimulus funds that will be made available during the FY 2022-23 annual budget process. As of October 1, 2021, DNR has not received any direct federal stimulus funding, only state stimulus/General Fund.

DNR is also analyzing the new federal bipartisan infrastructure package and the recently-announced USDA Comprehensive Investment package to understand how the current provisions could affect Colorado and identify what funding may be available for DNR programs, e.g., climate corps, forest health, orphaned wells, green infrastructure. 
Human Resources/Operations/Payroll/Accounting/Procurement

Kronos

As you know, the Kronos Workforce Central system was the victim of a nationwide ransomware attack. We are working with the State Controller’s office on alternate timekeeping and payroll practices throughout the disruption, which may last several weeks.

We are committed to ensure that our employees will be paid on time, accurately, and without interruption. We will need your supervisors, managers, and timekeepers help in order to do this.

In the near future, we are working with each Division to get manual timecards for biweekly, non-exempt employees. DNR Payroll will be providing further guidance for monthly and exempt employees. All questions should be directed to DNR_payroll@state.co.us
 

Payroll

W2 Address Updates

Please verify and update your address in ESS, for W2 purposes before December 27, 2021.  If your address changes after that date your W2 will be mailed to the previous address and it will be returned to DNR Payroll. 


HR Updates

Find answers to your HR questions and your HR contacts by clicking on the Human Resources Contact List.

Training

Remember to check the DNR Training Calendar regularly for new training sessions on a variety of topics.  The calendar is located on the DNR Intranet. Please note that we’ve added a series of free sessions to the training calendar in the next few months hosted by CSEAP, including a webinar geared towards DNR Supervisors on January 12, from noon to 1:00 pm. 

New training modules have been added to the DNR LMS.  

  • There will be 4 new annual compliance modules coming in January 2022. These modules will be required for all permanent staff to be completed before April 29th.
     
  • Info on new EDI training modules are below

Stay tuned for annual performance management (PMP) information and training sessions coming in February.  The FY21-22 plan year closes March 31st, so begin preparing information now for that important annual review.

Accounting

Travel Reimbursement Form


We noticed that there are many versions of the Travel Reimbursement Form out there.  Employees save a copy on their computer for their convenience.  However, due to frequent changes with per diem rates and other fiscal requirements, it is best practice to download the most up to date “Travel Reimbursement Form” from the DNR Accounting Intranet each time when filling out the form. This applies to employees, Board and Commission members.  The use of the most up-to-date version will ensure the proper processing of your reimbursement. If you have any questions, please visit our Intranet site or email to dnr_ap_help@state.co.us.

Procurement

We’re beginning to roll out a replacement checklist system for contract documents routed to DNR Procurement for approval.  Trainings in the replacement system are being scheduled in the coming weeks.  If you believe this applies to you and you have not already been contacted about scheduling a training session please contact kaylee.salazar@state.co.us.  

An updated and streamlined Sole Source Application has been uploaded to the “Forms” section of the DNR Intranet.  Please complete this form to request a sole source procurement.

As a reminder, all contractors who enter a State building to perform services must complete a certification of compliance with Public Health Order 20-38 regarding vaccine requirement.  Please ensure that you are collecting these from applicable contractors that your hire or supervise, and file the completed form in our repository.

IT Updates
 

Getting Technology Services

It can be a task in itself just figuring out how to ask for assistance with our technology.  There are many different services provided by OIT, and other services provided by the State Internet Portal Authority, and also others managed by other contractors.  So where do you go if you need help, and how do you properly navigate the complexity?

If there’s a problem:

If something that was working now is not working, please contact the OIT Service desk directly. You can do that by calling 303-239-4357 and following the prompts, by sending an email to OIT_ServiceDesk_HQ@state.co.us or by logging the ticket yourself at OIT Customer Service Portal. 

Of course, there are always exceptions: Some systems are managed in direct relationships between your divisions and contractors. People working in one of those systems have received instructions on how to report problems for that specific system instead of reporting them to IT.

For changes, improvements, new technology, contact your IT liaison:

Part of OIT's partnership with DNR is establishing liaisons to OIT for each division.  The liaisons play a critical role in the delivery of IT services to DNR. They have established relationships with OIT staff and have knowledge of everything "IT" for their division. When deciding if the liaison should be involved, the general rule is to involve them on anything that is not simply fixing something that was working before.  

"When deciding if the liaison should be involved, the general rule is to involve them on anything that is not simply fixing something that was working before."

For all non-break/fix items (change orders, projects and IT purchases), contact your IT Liaison directly as a first step. The liaison will ensure the request gets to the right people. If you’re not sure who your IT liaison is, ask your supervisor!

What does the IT liaison do? 

Your IT liaison works with OIT to prioritize change orders, to get projects started, and to purchase IT services and products.  Additionally, they help identify project stakeholders, help coordinate division staff and approve project requirements, costs and schedules.  Working with the IT liaison will be an informative process that will save time by ensuring that requests are directed where they need to go. 

Our overall goal is to work together to identify, prioritize, plan, and complete IT requests in a transparent, mutually respectful environment. OIT relies on DNR to partner with us to tell us what’s needed (business requirements) so that the best and most cost-effective solution options are available for you to select. Once the selection is made, we work with DNR staff to complete the projects within the requirements, budget and assessed timelines. 

Ease of Use Surveys

When recommending improvements, OIT currently looks at the importance of the system, and how difficult it is to support the system from a technical perspective, or supportability. Beginning on December 8, some DNR employees will receive an email to participate in an Ease of Use assessment to help with future planning by identifying how difficult to use a system may be, or usability.  

Having this new criteria will help us make better decisions on prioritizing replacement of old technologies.  While supportability is still a factor in these decisions, usability is also very important and can also drive up costs.  Ease of Use surveys directly measure comfort and convenience, which relates to productivity and efficiency. Therefore, we ask you to help us identify which of the systems are slowing you down so we can make sure replacing them is a higher priority.

Emails requesting Ease of Use feedback contain fifteen questions, and take about five minutes to complete.  At this time the surveys will only be sent to the users for specified systems, so employees not receiving a survey should not be concerned or alarmed. For those employees who use one of the selected systems being surveyed, participation is very important; we are asking each of you who receive a survey to please complete it as soon as you have time.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Strategies at Work

New training modules have been added to the DNR Learning Management System.  For help logging in, please contact Patrick Gerity at patrick.gerity@state.co.us.

  • All permanent employees will see 4 new EDI modules titled “DNR Supervisor EDI Module 1-4.”  Supervisors and managers must complete these modules by February 28th, 2022. The additional modules are optional for the remainder of DNR employees. Supervisors will find tools and tips on inclusive leadership practices.  

Tom Clements Better Government Award

The annual Tom Clements Award recognizes the work of State employees who elevate the performance of state government, resulting in significant impacts on bold initiatives and outcomes. The Award began in 2016 to honor Tom Clements, the former Executive Director of the Department of Corrections who was tragically killed during his service to the State. 

To honor his legacy of public service, the State recognizes individuals or teams in two categories: Outstanding Service in Government and Outstanding Innovation in Government. 

This year, DNR’s nominations for the Tom Clements Award are:
 

Anna Maus, Chief Operations Office, Colorado Water Conservation Board

CWCB administers about 10 different grant programs (depending on the year and available funding) and a $40 million/year water project loan program. All programs have different applications, processes and requirements. Additionally, application submission has been handled through email and required applicants to attach multiple word or PDF documents. Anna has diligently worked over the past year with agency grant managers, OIT, and a database development company to develop an online application portal to make the process easier and more efficient for both funding applicants and CWCB staff. The portal was recently launched to meet the 12/1/21 application deadline for Water Plan Grants and will be expanded to include all of CWCB’s other grants over the next few months. 

The expectation is that the newly opened portal will save a significant amount of time for applicants to have a portion of the application process automated and application information saved for repeat applicants. On the back end, CWCB expects a significant improvement in our ability to evaluate grant applications, conduct project oversight, and track data, which will ultimately result in better overall program management. 
 

Jason Gomez & Adam Kraich, Compliance Supervisors, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission


Jason Gomez and Adam Kraich have been instrumental in researching, identifying equipment, and developing procedures to implement a drone based aerial inspection program for the oil and gas industry in Colorado.

Administering oil and gas location involves multiple types of inspections, including general site conditions, mechanical integrity, remediation assessments, and reclamation of the land. Jason and Adam documented the number of duplicate inspection trips being made by different members of the COGCC team to sites that required several hours of travel to access. They also identified that reviewing a high resolution aerial video actually provided a more comprehensive evaluation than walking a site, both in terms of the time required and the ability to see issues of concern.

Lastly, they identified that the technology provided a readily reviewable log of site conditions to document changes in site conditions over time. While not only improving the quality of inspections, the technology enables fewer overall trips to the location as each subject matter expert group can often use the aerial video in lieu of an on-site visit. At the very least, the video enables site inspections to be specific and require less time on site.

Congratulations to Anna, Jason and Adam for your contributions to DNR and State of Colorado.  Thanks to all who nominated your fellow staffers and sections, we had a superb set of nominations this year, it was difficult to just pick a few. All nominees' efforts are greatly appreciated and will go a long way in making our processes more efficient not only for our own operations but the people of Colorado.  Congrats to you all. 

Divisions

CAIC

Notable events
  • First avalanche death in the US - Washington state. Six skiers caught in a closed portion of the Crystal Mountain Ski Area. Three full burials. One death due to trauma.

  • 97,000 web page views in the last week

  • 286,444 Instagram accounts reached in the last week

  • 103.7K people reached on Facebook in the last week

Avalanche Numbers

  • Since October 1, 2021

    • 710 avalanches reported

    • 89 human-triggered avalanches reported

    • 5 people caught in avalanches

    • 0 people killed in avalanches

  • December 10 - 17

    • 447 avalanches reported

    • 31 human-triggered avalanches reported

    • 2 people caught in avalanches

    • 0 people killed in avalanches

Other activities

  • Along with Friends of CAIC, released 2021 Annual Report
  • Weekly Highway Outlook - We are issuing a weekly outlook for avalanche hazard mitigation work along the highways with CDOT’s Winter Operations Group on Monday mornings. This is a new product focused on weekly planning for CDOT’s maintenance managers. 

  • Statewide Weekly Outlook -  We’ve partnered with Mountain TV to produce a ~2 min video that provides a weekly outlook on statewide avalanche conditions. The videos will be available each Thursday and discuss avalanche conditions during the upcoming weekend and following week. Mountain TV will play the video twice daily on their cable network station and we’ll publish it on our social media channels. We’ll start this next week.

  • Current Conditions Videos - With the FoCAIC we’re working with Social Paragon, a video production company, to produce videos on current avalanche conditions. We tested the process this week and produced this video below:


COGCC

COGCC’s Financial Assurance Rulemaking is well underway (1 of 3 remaining SB19-181 required rulemakings) with revised rules issued 12/7; 2nd draft released 10/8 -- Cost benefit analysis (requested by Sen. Rankin) and revised Statement of Basis and Purpose released 10/29. 

The Rulemaking hearing is expected to occur in Jan-Feb 2022; with a April 1st effective date.  COGCC Director, Staff continue to meet with stakeholders to solicit input, feedback which has been extensive.  

Released Draft rules propose imposing an Annual Well Fee (annual fee paid by operators based on the operator’s number of wells) to fund plugging and reclamation of orphan wells -- if adopted, COGCC will pursue legislative changes, including an enterprise fund, for the Orphan Well Program.
 


COGCC is preparing to request all sources of funding for orphan wells via federal legislation with the passage of the infrastructure bill 

  • Chair Robbins attended 11/8-9 IOGCC Annual Conference and learned about upcoming opportunities for funding 

  • Staff attended IOGCC Meeting on Orphan Well Grants on 12/3

  • Deadline to request Formula Grant funds is 12/30; deadline to request Initial Grant funds is late spring 2021

CPW
 

New State Park at Sweetwater Lake Announced
 

 

A new State Park partnership at Sweetwater Lake in Garfield County was recently announced in a press event with Governor Polis, Executive Director Dan Gibbs, CPW, U.S. Forest Service and Eagle Valley Land Trust. 

The yet to be named state park will be Colorado’s 43rd State Park and involves a unique partnership of establishing a state park while the US Forest Service retains ownership of the land, the first of its kind in the U.S. The partners are now working to develop a long-term management plan to improve recreational facilities and maintain the unique character of the area, which is likely to take 1-2 years. 

Read more in Governor Polis' press release. 

Governor Jared Polis stated:
 
“Sweetwater Lake is simply gorgeous, and has great potential for even more recreational opportunities like a campground. This is the first of its kind partnership in Colorado to create a state park on U.S. Forest Service land, and we look forward to working with our partners and Coloradans with the ultimate goal of adding Sweetwater Lake to Colorado’s world-class state park system for fun, conservation, education, and to support job growth  for the region.”

Inaugural Colorado Outdoor Equity Board
 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced the appointment and then this month held the first meeting of the inaugural Colorado Outdoor Equity Board. The board, created by the passage of House Bill 21-1318, is composed of members representing communities that have faced barriers to accessing Colorado’s outdoors and are responsible for the governance of the Outdoor Equity Grant program.


 

 

Wolf Restoration and Management Plan

The Keystone Policy Center (Keystone) released the Wolf Restoration and Management Plan Summer 2021 Public Engagement Report, summarizing the input received during public engagement activities conducted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and Keystone in the summer of 2021. 

The report qualitatively details the various perspectives gathered during our summer public engagement effort, and does not attempt to draw conclusions regarding which specific restoration and management strategies were favored by participants in the process.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Keystone Policy Center engaged more than 3,400 participants through 47 meetings and an online comment form in the summer of 2021. The meetings included 16 in-person public open houses throughout the state, 17 in-person Western Colorado geographic focus groups, 10 virtual interest-based focus groups; two in-person Tribal consultations, and two virtual town halls. 

Click here to review the report with other commission materials on the CPW website. More information regarding the restoration of the gray wolf in Colorado can be found at: https://www.wolfengagementco.org/ 
 

Bear rehabilitated by CPW goes back to Southern Ute Indian Tribe
 

At the end of July, the Southern Ute Division of Wildlife received a call from a tribal homeowner of an orphaned bear cub that had been hanging around their home.

The bear, along with another cub that was orphaned in the surrounding area, was captured and sent to CPW’s Frisco Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Del Norte. After five months at the facility under the care of CPW’s Michael Sirochman and his staff, the bear cubs were returned to Southern Ute tribal lands and released by Southern Ute Division of Wildlife biologist Aran Johnson.

Bear Dance Chief Matthew Box provided a blessing over the cubs before they were taken to the reservation mountains. Ute people believe the kwiyaghatʉ (bear in Ute) are relatives, and the annual Bear Dance was gifted to them from the bear. Ute traditional teachings strictly forbid harming a bear. With the partnership of CPW, this was a success story for the Southern Ute Division of Wildlife.

Read more about this in the Southern Ute Drum

Division of Forestry
 

Following a successful national search, Matthew McCombs will take leadership of the Colorado State Forest Service and become Colorado’s new State Forester on January 3, 2022. 

McCombs takes the lead of the agency following his time as the U.S. Forest Service District Ranger for the 1.3-million-acre Gunnison Ranger District, part of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests. Prior to that role, McCombs served as the District Ranger for the Appalachian Ranger District, home to Mt. Mitchell the tallest peak in the east, on the Pisgah National Forest near Asheville, North Carolina.  

His career has spanned both natural resources and forestry management as well as other government work, beginning as an aid to Senators Ken Salazar and Jon Tester. McCombs is also a veteran, having deployed to Iraq in 2003 as a combat medic with the Colorado Army National Guard and serving as a Medical Service Officer in the Montana Air National Guard where he achieved the rank of captain before leaving the service in 2012.  

Welcome Matt!

Read more about Matt, on Colorado State Forest Service's press release. 

 

Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program

In November, Executive Director Dan Gibbs announced the launch of the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) and highlighted the special collaboration with their partners, the Department of Corrections (DOC), State Wildland Inmate Fire Team (SWIFT).

Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program (COSWAP) was created after the devastating 2020 fire season by the Colorado legislature through the bi-partisan supported  SB21-258.  COSWAP is designed to quickly move state stimulus funds to start on-the-ground work on fuels reduction projects including funds for landscape scale strategic wildfire mitigation projects in strategic wildfire prone communities in Colorado. 

The COSWAP is housed under DNR in coordination with the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) and the Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) in the Department of Public Safety.  It includes a special collaboration with State Wildland Inmate Fire Teams (SWIFT) within the Department of Corrections (DOC) and Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) to be deployed as hand crew teams to jump-start critical on-the-ground forest health and wildfire mitigation work throughout Colorado.

Learn more about COSWAP here.

Director Dan Gibbs:
 

“Colorado is one lightning strike, one unattended fire, and one drought season away from our next mega fire, The devastating 2020 fire season taught us that the status quo of our forest health and wildfire mitigation programs were no longer going to cut it and our state and federal partners needed to do more, and quickly.”

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Polis, bi-partisan support in the Colorado legislature, and strong inter-agency collaboration, we have launched the Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program, identified priority areas, and are going to be moving funds to on-the-ground projects and deploying hand crew teams from CDOC and the Colorado Youth Corps within months of legislation being signed."

CWCB

The CWCB is in the process of updating Colorado’s Water Plan to secure Thriving Watersheds, Robust Agriculture, Vibrant Communities by planning for resilience. The nine Basin Roundtables completed Basin Implementation Plans that will be rolled into the final update. A Water Equity Task Force will hold its fourth meeting in February to develop “Water Equity Principles” to be integrated into the plan.  The CWCB plans to complete a draft by June 30th, 2022 followed by a 90-day public comment period. The final plan will be delivered to the Governor by December 2022


Water Leaders Hold Collaborative Discussions at Colorado River Conference

On December 14, Colorado River Commissioner Rebecca Mitchell and other Colorado water leaders traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the Colorado River Water Users Association annual conference. This year’s three-day meeting focused on presentations covering improving water supply forecasting, impacts on Colorado River Basin operations and hydrology, and scenario planning as the Basin faces continued challenges associated with declining reservoir elevations in Lake Powell and Lake Mead. As Colorado’s Governor-appointed representative for Colorado River matters, one of Commissioner Mitchell’s main priorities going into the conference was to include a commitment to engage with Tribal nations in Colorado.

Commissioner Becky released a statement to the media before the CRWUA conference here.

Colorado State Water Leaders Issue Statements on Passing of Justice Greg Hobbs

The Directors of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources and its Colorado Water Conservation Board, and Division of Water Resources released the following statements on the passing of Justice Greg Hobbs. Read More

2021 Highlights for CWCB's Loan & Grant Programs
 

Throughout the 2021 calendar year, the Colorado Water Conservation Board approved 127 grants, 19 loans, and provided over $76 million in funding for water projects across the state that support the Colorado Water Plan. Here’s the breakdown:

 

Water Supply Reserve Fund:

35 grants awarded, totaling $1.7 million

 

Colorado Watershed Restoration Program (general):

20 grants awarded, totaling $1.6 million 

 

Colorado Watershed Restoration Program (wildfire recovery special release):

14 projects, for a total of $22.2 million

 

Water Plan Grants:

58 grants awarded totaling $16.7 million

 

Water Project Loan Program:

15 loans approved for $32.2 million total &

4 current projects received loan increases totaling $2.3 million

DRMS

(Photo, Trish Zorino, Colorado Newsline)

During the December 15 MLRB hearing, DRMS staff presented an enforcement action for the Gold Cross Mine in Boulder County for failure to protect the hydrological balance.  The Mine is situated approximately 4 miles northwest of Nederland and above the Barker Meadow Reservoir which supplies the town's drinking water.  The Division became aware of a CDPHE enforcement matter regarding exceedances of surface water quality for lead, cadmium and other metals through communication channels with that agency.  

The operator had failed to report these issues to DRMS as required. The Board found a violation for failure to protect the hydrological balance, issued a cease and desist order and tabled the civil penalty pending a report on compliance progress in January.  A water treatment system is in place and early results appear to be addressing the issue.  Staff will be on site in early January to observe the treatment system and other efforts to mitigate the impacts. Of note, DRMS received almost 50 complaints that were part of an organized citizen campaign via form letters against the mine in general and the Board ordered the operator to conduct a public outreach effort to address the issues as part of the compliance action.

DWR
       

DWR staff has attended mediation sessions for the Texas lawsuit on the Rio Grande Compact.  The sessions are being held with the special master in Minnesota are an attempt to settle the suit without continued litigation.  The sessions were held the weeks of November 29 and December 6 and continued week of December 13. 
 

This fall's dry warm weather and lack of snowfall prompted a number of media inquiries on how Colorado administers snowmaking in the State.  The two stories on KCNC, Denver TV Ch. 4 and KUSA, Denver TV, Ch. 9 did a good job of capturing DWR’s role in highlighting snowmaking as a beneficial use in Colorado and how the ski industry fits within Colorado’s prior appropriation system.  Its a complicated topic that was adeptly handled by State Engineer Kevin Rein. 

Click on picture below for link to Ch. 4 story.

State Land Board       
     

(Photo: SLB conducted site tour of Lowry property in October for DNR EDO Staff )

Dowd Junction/Affordable Housing

SLB staff are continuing to work with CDOT to relocate some or all of their maintenance and housing facilities currently located on the Land Board’s Dowd Junction parcel near Vail. SLB has previously acquired a 5 acre site less than two miles away to relocate the maintenance facility.  CDOT’s move would free up approximately 8 developable acres that could be redeveloped for more than 150 units of affordable housing. SLB is working with a site planning firm and Eagle County to determine what redevelopment options are possible, subject to CDOT agreeing to vacate some or all of the site. 

BLM Record of Decision "In-Lieu Lands"

On November 19, the BLM published a Decision Record, the final step in the process of transferring 17,232 acres of land and associated minerals from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to settle the 145-year-old “In-Lieu Lands” debt to the State Land Board.  SLB staff and the Colorado BLM office have been working cooperatively for nearly 10 years to finalize this transaction.  

Annual Report

The FY21 public annual report is now published.  SLB earned $148 million for trust beneficiaries this year. 

Close 

Annual ‘Shop With A Cop’ a holiday season highlight of CPW officers, rangers

SALIDA, Colo. – A highlight of every Christmas holiday season for CPW park rangers and wildlife officers are the community “Show With A Cop” events.

On Dec. 11, the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area leadership team of Park Manager Tom Waters, Corrine Servis and Tappan Brown joined local police to take 4th graders from Salida and Buena Vista for a shopping spree.

They joined a group that included police officers from Salida and Buena Vista along with Chaffee County Sheriff’s Department deputies.

Each child was given $200 to buy family presents and paired with an officer. They rode in AHRA patrol trucks, talked to dispatchers and then hit the stores. After the shopping was done, the group went for ice cream then back to the Salida Police Department headquarters to wrap their presents.

A reminder of the true holiday spirit!  Everyone have a safe and restful holiday season!

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