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September 13, 2007 08:15 PM UTC

Fish tales and legislative trash

  • 1 Comments
  • by: Oliver

“Now I have seniority! Maybe I’ll get a bigger trash can.” 
Rep. Cory “Drill my World” Gardner (WN-Yuma)

It was in 1998 that the Conservation Plan for recovering the Greenback was re-authored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  Soon thereafter Gov. Bill Owens (BO) and his Colorado Division of Wildlife  (then under DNR Director Greg “Water Grab” Walcher) pushed for greater state control over endangered species recovery efforts-a move that Rep. Cory Gardner later praised in testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in 2005:

“Modernization of the Endangered Species Act must start by making the State a true partner and coequal. The State is not just another voice, but must statutorily be made an equal partner of federal government. …The State has a far better understanding of its species’ needs than the federal government.  In-State employee expertise should be embraced by the Endangered Species Act, not rejected or downplayed.” 

It was under the BO administration that efforts to recover the Greenback really picked up.  But, oh, how times change when a Democrat is in the Governor’s mansion.

Now Rep. Gardner wants to force the DOW to conduct a costly audit (at taxpayer expense) in his effort to wrest control of the DNR.  If mistakes were made, then the program and the Division should figure out how and why they happened.  But clearly the State Legislature should not be in the business of micro-managing our state’s wildlife.  As the GJ Sentinel argues in an editorial (September 13, 2007) 

“The great greenback cutthroat controversy has inevitably become a political issue, and at least one state lawmaker apparently sees it as an ideal way to pummel the Colorado Division of Wildlife and seek more legislative control over the agency…

“Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, used the cutthroat issue to launch a broad attack on the DOW. He said it proves that “not all of their science is accurate,” and it demonstrates why the wildlife agency should be subject to more intensive legislative oversight.

“Right. As if 100 legislators – none of them aquatic biologists – would have detected the impostor cutthroats when DOW and federal fish biologists reportedly did not.”

But now neither the federal nor Colorado’s “employee expertise” is enough for Rep. Gardner, who clearly believes that he is better suited to identify one species of cutthroat trout from another.  In a letter sent to the CDOW from Gardner (and other luminaries of the wing-nut caucus), the good representative writes:

“If the Division of Wildlife cannot ensure something as menial as reintroducing the species it is actually seeking to recover, we wonder: where else might the Division’s recovery programs be guilty of sloppy science?”

Why the sudden change of heart-how come biologists who had great expertise two years ago-enough to lead the effort at recovery cannot now conduct the most menial of chores? 

Is it because the CDOW is also concerned about Rep. Gardner’s cash constituents-the oil and gas industry? 

Rep. Gardner believes that the oil and gas industry in Colorado-currently developing at an unprecedented frenetic rate, building massive new pipelines to carry Colorado’s energy off to Midwest markets, raising industry profits and consumer prices too-is endangered, raising the bogey-man threat that sensible reforms (passed in the last legislative session), could “destroy the state’s energy industry.”

Note to Gardner, Penry, et al.  Leave our fish and wildlife out of your little petty political squabbles.

Comments

One thought on “Fish tales and legislative trash

  1. It is dissapointing to see rural Rupublicans use this as a polical issue.  In Colorado wildlife should be a nonpartisan issue.

    Two points, though.

    First, I don’t think Gardner is as petty as you paint him. Yuma now has economic development it hasn’t had in years – thanks to oil and gas.  The demand has opened up stripper wells on the eastern plains and that is good for the region.  You honestly can’t blame a guy for protecting some money that has finally come to his neck of the woods.

    However, Gardner and other legislators would do better to look at other agencies, not the DOW.  The State Land Board swooped in to grab a piece of land in southwest CO that was one of the few places left for the sagebrush grouse to nest.  DOW bid on it but the State Land Board bid more. DOW didn’t even know the Land Board was involved until after the deal was signed. Harris Sherman did not know.

    I’m not surprised that Gardner is gushing about the greenbacks and I don’t blame him for taking advantage of a soapbox, but I do agree that wildlife should stay out of politics.

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