County woman vies for Wildlife Commission

Commissioners support Jean Stetson's bid as ag representative

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Moffat County resident Jean Stetson is seeking to fill the agriculture representative seat on the Colorado Wildlife Commission.

If Stetson's bid for the seat is successful, it will be the first time Northwest Colorado has had a representative on the commission since Marianna Raftopoulos sat on the board as a county commissioner representative. Raftopoulos left the Wildlife Commission in March 2003.

"I think it's important for Northwest Colorado to have some representation. We have a lot of wildlife issues up here and a lot of people in ag," Stetson said.

The Moffat County commissioners agreed Monday to support Stetson's request to be on the commission.

"Given that Moffat County is one of the premier hunting counties in the state ... anything we can do to get a citizen like Jean (on the commission) is good for the county and the wildlife," Commissioner Tom Gray said.

Stetson has been a member of the Moffat County sage grouse working group for six years. She serves on the Moffat County Land Use Board, and she is a member of the state wolf working group that recently finished drafting recommendations for managing wolves that migrate to Colorado.

The governor makes appointments to the wildlife commission, and hundreds of people will sometimes apply for one seat, Raftopoulos said.

In light of Moffat County's high percentage of public land and the prevalence of controversial environmental issues such as chronic wasting disease, wolves, greater sage grouse and threatened and endangered species management, it's important to have a local representative on the commission, Raftopoulos said.

Stetson has been considering requesting an appointment to the commission since December, when she heard that the agriculture representative, Brad Phelps of Crested Butte, was leaving the commission.

Thomas Burke of Grand Junction is the wildlife commissioner located closest to Craig. The former president of Colorado Ducks Unlimited, he serves as the commission's wildlife representative.

The Wildlife Commission sets Division of Wildlife regulations and policies for hunting, fishing, watchable wildlife and nongame, threatened and endangered species.

It also is responsible for making decisions about buying or leasing property for habitat and public access and for approving the division's annual budget proposals and long-range plans.

The wildlife commission is an 11-member board with nine voting members.

The executive director of the Department of Natural Resources and the state agriculture commissioner serve as ex-officio members.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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