My goal as state Senator was to represent the residents of southwest Colorado, and to preserve the rural lifestyle we all enjoy. I have worked hard to reach this goal, and believe my time in the Senate was beneficial to those of us who live in this beautiful corner of Colorado.
The campaign season intensified during the last month, and the voters have elected the person they believe will best represent this region. I wish her well. The upcoming legislative session will be extremely challenging, and I would encourage all of you to express your views and opinions to your elected officials during the session. Constituent input plays a significant role in the legislative process.
My official duties for the Senate continued last month, and remained a high priority for me. I attended numerous events, and continued to meet wonderful people in the eight counties I represent. I attended fund-raisers for the Manna Soup Kitchen in Durango, Black Canyon Boys and Girls Club in Montrose, and the La Plata County Humane Society. These events remind me of the hard work that staff and volunteers do to make this region a better place to live. I also participated in the Colorado Non-Profit/Government Roundtable hosted in Durango and believe that all of these organizations should be commended for the work they do every day.
As chair of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, I advised and participated in meetings of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education (CFWE) and the Colorado Water Institute (CWI). Both of these organizations have representation from throughout the state, and provide educational and research opportunities related to our most valuable natural resource. I also attended a special board meeting of the Animas-La Plata Water Conservancy District regarding recreational possibilities at Lake Nighthorse, and I look forward to participating in the public forums that the District and National Park Service will be hosting over the next few months.
As we continue to develop our natural resources, we should do so in a manner that assures they remain available to our future generations. I had the opportunity to tour the Animas River Wetlands project on the Waterfall Ranch and was encouraged to see the benefits of the first wetland bank to be established in this region. This concept will allow for the preservation of open space in the Animas River Valley, while providing wetland mitigation opportunities for new projects such as roads and other construction activities without a lengthy permitting process. I was also asked to speak at a climate conference hosted by the Mountain Research Institute in Silverton to discuss future water demands and supplies of the state, and I attended the Home Grown Festival in Durango which encourages the development of local markets for locally grown products.
We are fortunate to live in a region that is rich in cultural resources and history. I attended the ground breaking ceremony for the new visitor center at Mesa Verde National Park, which has been envisioned for decades. With the assistance of our Congressional delegation, foundation grants were used to leverage federal recovery funds to make this project a reality. The cultural history of Native Americans was also highlighted during the Rocky Mountain Indian Chamber of Commerce event that I attended in Denver recently.
I continue to work for my constituents in agriculture and have been coordinating with the Colorado Farm Bureau and the La Plata County Cattlemen’s Association to host educational meetings regarding agricultural tax exemptions.
It has truly been a privilege to serve in the Colorado State Senate, and I value all the new friendships that have been forged during my time in public service. Thanks to my friends and family for their support during this challenging time in my life.