CO: PWC Honors Fetcher’s Conservation Legacy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Commission honored the legacy of local rancher John Fetcher, a
water visionary who was instrumental in the creation of Steamboat
Lake and Stagecoach Reservoir State Parks, during its monthly
meeting Thursday in Steamboat Springs.

Fetcher’s son, Jay, was presented with a partnership award from
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Rick Cables while a number of
family friends and local dignitaries observed from the
audience.

“As you all know, Steamboat Lake and Stagecoach Reservoir State
Parks play a vital role in the quality of life in the Yampa
Valley,” said Cables. “We are very proud to manage these properties
and the many others that benefit this part of the state.”

John Fetcher, who also helped develop the Yamcola Reservoir on
the Yampa headwaters in the late 1970s, served as the manager of
the Upper Yampa Valley Water Conservancy District from its
formation in 1966 to his death at age 97 in 2009.

In the early 1960s, Fetcher was approached by Colorado Game Fish
and Parks, who asked him to consider building a lake in the Hahn’s
Peak Basin. Steamboat Lake, which inundated 70 percent of the
cattle ranch that Fetcher and his brother purchased in 1949, filled
during its first snowmelt season. Fetcher paddled across the new
lake on a surfboard to attend the dedication.

“Those of you who knew my dad knew his passion for water,” Jay
Fetcher said. “He had a vision that this land was worth more as a
recreational asset than for agriculture and he was right.”

During the late 1980s, Fetcher played a leading role in the
creation of Stagecoach Reservoir, which joined Steamboat Lake as a
fixture in the region’s recreational economy. Fetcher, who grew up
in Chicago and learned to ski in Switzerland, also left his mark in
the design of safer ski-jumping hills and is credited with helping
to bring Steamboat Springs Resort into the modern age. His name is
enshrined in the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.

The partnership award was presented to the Fletcher family “in
recognition of our outstanding partnership and your family’s
dedicated service to the people of the Yampa River Valley.”

During the afternoon session, commissioners considered
recommendations for new mission statement for the agency created by
the merger of Colorado State Parks with the Division of Wildlife
and changes that could reduce its membership from 14 to nine
commissioners. The board had intended to vote on its
recommendations for the new agency’s mission, legislative
declaration and board composition but opted to defer the vote for a
month to receive additional public input.

“We need to have the dialog because I don’t feel the commission
is ready to make a decision today,” said Chairman Tim Glenn.

Kim Burgess, the Chief Operating Officer of the Department of
Natural Resources, told commissioners that the DNR web page has
posted employee work group reports designed to evaluate core
functions within Colorado Parks and Wildlife with a goal of
identifying alternatives to eliminate unnecessary duplication
create efficiencies and cost savings and enhance the effectiveness
of programs and operations while fulfilling the mission of the
agency.

Burgess told commissioners that the reports developed by the
Work Groups provide the starting point for a robust dialogue among
stakeholders, the public, the Parks and Wildlife Commission, agency
leadership and employees about how to most successfully implement
the merger. DNR is seeking public comment on the alternatives
through Nov. 10.

To view the work group reports and to provide public comment,
please go to

http://dnr.state.co.us/DPW/Pages/PublicInput.aspx.

In other action, Commissioners voted to continue until November a
proposal to amend rafting regulations to allow a wider range of
acceptable personal flotation devices for commercial passengers on
regulated river trips. Commissioners were concerned that the
proposed regulations were not clear enough for the public and
enforcement officers. Commissioners asked River Outfitter Licensing
program staff for additional information on the potential impact of
the changes on public safety.

Also, Area Wildlife Manager Travis Black of Lamar delivered an
update on the Big Game Access Program, which was originally
launched as a three-year pilot program in 2007. Now in its fifth
year, the BGAP program has provided quality big-game hunting access
on the Eastern Plains while helping to build relationships between
wildlife managers and private landowners. The program has an annual
budget of $100,000 for leases, signage and staff time. Hunters need
to purchase a $40 permit to access the leased lands.

Black said that BGAP continues to increase in popularity with
hunters even as harvest numbers have leveled out. However, he said
that finite funding has stretched the program to its limits and
said asked the commission if staff could explore alternative
funding opportunities in an effort to maintain it. Commissioners
asked Black to develop a proposal for presentation at the November
meeting in Yuma.

In addition, the Commission approved the capture and
translocation of 20 to 25 Gunnison sage-grouse to a site in
Monticello, Utah, contingent on the state of Utah obtaining a
conservation easement of the site. The Monticello site is
considered to be one of the species’ important satellite
populations but biologists observed a significant decline in
breeding males during 2010. The proposed relocation of birds from
the sage-grouse’s Gunnison Valley stronghold is intended to
supplement the Monticello population.

The Parks and Wildlife Commission meets monthly and travels to
communities around the state to facilitate public participation in
its processes. During the remainder of 2011, the Board has
scheduled meetings in Burlington in November and Fort Collins in
December. The complete agenda for the October Parks and Wildlife
Commission meeting can be found on the Commission web page
at:

http://wildlife.state.co.us/ParksWildlifeCommission/Archives/2011/Pages/Oct132011.aspx.

The October meeting was held at the Holiday Inn, 3190 S. Lincoln
Avenue, Steamboat Springs.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is a 14-member board
appointed by the governor. The Parks and Wildlife Commission sets
regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks wildlife
programs.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to:
http://wildlife.state.co.us.

 

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