Leaders seek local presence on wildlife commission | CraigDailyPress.com

Leaders seek local presence on wildlife commission

Northwest Colorado boasts more than 25 percent of the state’s big game and the two biggest elk herds.

The only thing the northwest corner of the state seems to lack in terms of wildlife is representation on the Colorado Wildlife Commission, which sets state wildlife policy.

“We have the largest herd and no voice,” said Annette Gianinetti, executive director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce.

Gianinetti is one of a few local leaders working to get someone from the region appointed to the 11-member commission.

“I’ve asked everyone I could think of,” Gianinetti said.

Gianinetti thinks she might have found a local to serve on the board.

Kelly Sewell, a 50-year-old rancher and outfitter from Slater, said he would be up to the challenge of serving on the commission.

The commission, which is appointed by the governor, makes decisions about everything from hunting license rules to the sale of Division of Wildlife lands.

Wildlife commissioners last fall came under fire from local business leaders when they voted to change hunting license allocation rules.

The new rules mean more licenses for in-state hunters at the expense of out-of-state hunters.

Many in-state hunters, however, applauded the decision because they said it would give them a better chance to hunt.

Like most outfitters in the area, Sewell said he opposed changing the hunting license allocation rules.

State law requires the board be made up of a mix of Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters. The sitting governor’s party is allowed to have one more member than the other parties.

There could be at least one opening on the commission in the next few months for a registered Democrat or independent, Gianinetti said.

Sewell is a registered Democrat.

Former Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raft-op-oulos served on the wildlife commission from 1999 to 2003.

Since she left the commission, Tom Burke of Grand Junction is the only commissioner from anywhere close to Craig.

Raftopoulos, like Gianinetti, said she would like to see someone from the northwest corner of the state on the board.

About 80 percent of the decisions the commission made during her tenure had a direct effect on Northwest Colorado, Raftopoulos said.

Last week, Gianinetti mentioned Sewell to Moffat County commissioners as a possible candidate for the state commission.

She said she hopes the commissioners will recommend him to the governor.

Commissioner Darryl Steele said that although he hasn’t met Sewell, he wants someone from the region to serve on the board.

“I’ve been very strong about wanting to get someone from Northwest Colorado on there,” Steele said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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