“If you live in a state as beautiful as Colorado and you are presented with an opportunity to do something influential with parks and wildlife, that’s about as good as it gets.”
— Rick Cables, new director of the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife
Rick Cables enjoyed his retirement — all 17 days of it.
Cables, who spent 35 years with the U.S. Forest Service, is director of the newly formed Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, an organization created by merging the Division of Wildlife and State Parks.
Cables retired from his position as Rocky Mountain regional forester July 1, the same day the organizational merger became official. He took over at Parks and Wildlife on July 18.
“I had a short-lived retirement,” Cables said. “But, I had been thinking about retiring from the Forest Service for about six months.”
He said he has no reservations about getting right back to work.
“If you live in a state as beautiful as Colorado and you are presented with an opportunity to do something influential with parks and wildlife, that’s about as good as it gets,” he said.
Combining the DOW and State Parks was first-year Gov. John Hickenlooper’s idea, and serves as an example of the administration’s effort to restructure and modernize government agencies, Cables said.
Parks and Wildlife has not adopted a mission statement, Cables said, but officials are currently working to blend philosophies of both agencies.
Before the merger, State Parks managed 42 parks with the mission to “enhance and provide opportunities for the public to enjoy the outdoors through a variety of recreation opportunities,” Cables said.
The DOW’s purpose was to “manage and protect wildlife and their habitats, while providing opportunities for the public to hunt, fish or simply enjoy the wildlife of the state,” Cables said.
Cables has employed the help of a variety of work groups, a transition team and a new Parks and Wildlife Commission — comprised of employees from both agencies — to search for overlaps and provide recommendations for a smooth transition.
“In some areas there is obvious overlap,” the new director said, citing state parks that have water and provide an opportunity for fishing as an example.
Cables said work groups are also looking at the regional structure of field offices to identify opportunities for staffs once separated to share office space. Additionally, a financial services team will examine each agency’s budget to identify areas where they can fuse services and processes.
“Part of this work in the merger is to figure out where we have opportunities to gain efficiencies, streamline and make the services better and easier for the public,” Cables said. “In some areas we’ll be able to do that and in others they will remain quite separate.”
Recommendations by various works groups will funnel through the transition team, then the Parks and Wildlife Commission before ending up on Cables’s desk for authorization.
Cables said it’s too early to tell whether job cuts will be included in the restructuring, given the current economic climate and that the new organization is in its infancy.
“Right now, we’re just focusing on making a smooth transition,” Cables said.
Cables is visiting locations around the state, and meeting with regional managers to gather information and address questions about combining the two agencies.
He and his staff are scheduled to report on the merger to the legislature in February 2012.
“Right now we’re just putting all of the pieces together so we’re prepared for our report in February,” he said.
“We’re also delivering on the missions of the previous two agencies. State parks are open. We’re managing the parks and hopefully providing quality recreation and service to the public. And our wildlife folks are on the ground, managing habitat and enforcing hunting and fishing regulations.”
Cables recently visited Grand Junction. He does not have any visits planned for Moffat County, but said he is always looking for opportunities to meet as many employees and members of the public as possible.
He is scheduled to appear Oct. 13 and 14 in Routt County for a Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting.
“There is no one I won’t meet with because I know how deeply people care about state parks and wildlife programs,” Cables said.
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