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Input on Parks and Wildlife merger sought

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission discussed a range of issues July 7 related to the merger of the state’s former parks and wildlife agencies to create the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. The merger became effective July 1.

Kim Burgess, chief operating officer of the Department of Natural Resources, explained that DNR is currently taking public comments on the development of a unified agency mission, the composition of the permanent Parks and Wildlife Commission, achieving full consolidation of the two divisions and other suggestions for making the new agency more efficient and effective.

“The legislature gave us specific subjects to make recommendation on, but that doesn’t preclude the public giving us their thoughts on other issues as well,” said Tim Glenn, who was elected chair of the new body. “If it’s something that will help this agency do its job better, we’d like to hear about it.”

The deadline for the initial round of comments is July 29.

The Hickenlooper administration won broad bipartisan support in the General Assembly for its proposal to merge Colorado State Parks and the Division of Wildlife during the 2011 legislative session as the spearhead of an effort to streamline state government. Mike King, the director of the Department of Natural Resources, said one of the benefits of the merger is the opportunity to build a broader and more robust constituency for natural resources in Colorado.

“As director of DNR, one thing I worry about is 30 years from now citizens making decisions on natural resources without understanding things like where water comes from or where energy comes from,” King said. “That’s a huge risk. The merger of Parks and Wildlife will help us keep this from happening by using outdoor recreation as a tool to make those connections clear in peoples’ minds.”

In the coming months, King, Rick Cables, the new director of Parks and Wildlife, and the Parks and Wildlife Commission will explore alternatives to complete the merger. Already, a transition team of employees and 10 employee working groups are evaluating agency functions from field operations to capital development and real estate to customer service in order to identify options for consolidation and improvement.

Burgess said that major decisions about the merger will move through a three-step process. During the next few weeks, issues that will need to be resolved will be developed through public and employee input. At the second, or “draft” step, alternatives will be presented for review and refinement. A final recommendation will then be presented to the board for consideration and possible adoption.

Timelines for decisions, as well as the request for public input, are posted on the Web at: http://dnr.state.co.us/DPW/Pages/PublicInput.aspx.

The Parks and Wildlife Commission will meet monthly and travel to communities around the state to facilitate public participation in its processes. The commission was formed July 1 by combining the Colorado State Parks Board with the Colorado Wildlife Commission. During the remainder of 2011, the commission has scheduled meetings in Alamosa in August, Colorado Springs in September, Steamboat Springs in October, Burlington in November and Fort Collins in December.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is a 14-member board appointed by the governor that sets policies and regulations for the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. More information about the Parks and Wildlife Commission may be found by clicking on the Board or Commission links at http://wildlife.state.co.us or at http://parks.state.co.us.

Public input on the merger may be submitted by input via e-mail to: DPWPublic.Input@state.co.us. Comments may also be mailed to: Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Attn: Transition Team, 1313 Sherman Street, Room 718, Denver, CO 80203.

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