Stepping down

Raftopoulos to give up hear seat on Wildlife Commission

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Although she said it was an honor to serve on the Colorado Wildlife Commission the past four years, Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos will not apply for re-appointment to the board when her term is up next month.

She cited several reason for not reapplying, including her increased responsibilities in being elected president of Colorado Counties, Inc., spending time working on her master's degree in business administration and wanting to have more time for her family. But she said the main reason she is stepping down is she would not be able to serve the remainder of her second term, which would not end until 2007.

Raftopoulos is a county commissioner representative on the board and, when her term is up as a county commissioner in 2004, she would no longer be able to fill that seat on the state wildlife commission.

Raftopoulos said in Colorado, the wildlife commission is always a high-profile board.

"It's one of the most sought after commissions as well as the most intense," she said.

Especially in the past year, she said, with the discovery of chronic wasting disease in deer and elk on the Western Slope.

"I was very instrumental in making sure we got a sampling site here and that this area did not get called an endemic area," she said. "We're not an endemic area here at this time."

The labeled "endemic area" in Colorado is near Fort Collins, where the disease has been known to exist for 20 years, and where up to 15 percent of deer in some areas carry the disease.

"They have 20 years of data there compared to the one year of data we have here," she said, stating the reason why the label should not have been cast on the area, despite the discoveries of the disease this year.

Raftopoulos said she also had to go to bat for Northwest Colorado when proposals were being made to eliminate the extra elk and combined hunting seasons.

"If they would have changed those seasons, it would have been devastating to our economy," she said.

Because of her opposition to the proposals, Raftopoulos said other commissioners asked her to draft a proposal of her own, which she said she did.

"I was able to get that through and it was good for both the biology in our area and the economy," she said.

Raftopoulos said she has learned to work with a variety of different people, with extremely different views and interests regarding wildlife, including private landowners, sportsmen and environmentalists.

"Trying to mold this group together and come to some sort of consensus on decisions was a challenge," she said.

Raftopoulos said she was impressed with the agency the commission sets regulations for, the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

"The leadership of the Colorado Division of Wildlife is moving in the right direction," she said. "I hold the people who work for the Division in the highest respect. They have some of the top biologists and scientists working there."

The commission consists of representatives from five districts in Colorado, who represent several groups, including livestock producers, agriculture and produce growers, sportsmen or outfitters, wildlife organizations and boards of county commissioners.

Raftopoulos said it was important that the commission had a voice from Northwest Colorado, and was proud to be that voice.

"It was an honor for me to serve on this commission and for Northwest Colorado to have a representative," she said.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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