Celebrate Conservation Leaders in Larimer County!
By Gary Wockner

"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country."
— President Theodore Roosevelt 1912

Larimer County has one of the greatest conservation legacies in Colorado. We have Rocky Mountain National Park; we have over one million acres of protected federal, state, county, and city open spaces; and we have the last free-flowing river along the Front Range—the Cache la Poudre River.

Much of this legacy is due to the diligent work of conservationists in the past—men and women at the local, state, and federal level who have recognized the great natural resources we have here and have worked hard to protect them. We are even more fortunate that new leaders are stepping forward to continue building on this foundation.

In the 2007 state legislature, our local legislators—Senator Bob Bacon, and Representatives Randy Fischer and John Kefalas—achieved hallmark successes on behalf of conservation. Many conservation bills were supported by Bacon, Fischer, and Kefalas, passed by the legislature, and signed into law by Governor Ritter.

Successes of the 2007 legislature include:

* Supporting the New Energy Economy: Our new governor and legislature made it a top priority to catapult Colorado forward with support for alternative and renewable energy. The legislature doubled the renewable energy standard for Colorado, expanded utility energy efficiency programs, and helped expand utility transmission lines to wind and solar power generation areas.

* Balancing Oil and Gas Development: Oil and gas development is exploding across Colorado, creating negative impacts for landowners, air and water quality, and wildlife. The legislature passed bills which ensured that the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission is represented by a broad diversity of citizens, and helped protect wildlife habitat from the harmful effects of oil and gas development.

* Protecting Our Water Resources: Water quality has been severely neglected and under-funded in Colorado for decades. The legislature passed bills which provided support for the state’s Water Quality Control Division, expanded the state’s Water Efficiency Grant Program, and made it legally easier for cities and farmers share water.

* Protecting Wildlife Habitat and Open Space: Wildlife habitat and open space are continuing to be degraded by rapid development and population growth. To help address these impacts, the 2007 legislature supported the Habitat Partnership Program, expanded the Native Species Conservation Trust Fund, and increased the ability of communities to raise funds to protect open space.

There is one non-partisan organization in Colorado—Colorado Conservation Voters (CCV) – that both supports conservation candidates for public office, and then tracks their voting records in the legislature (www.coloradoconservationvoters.org). Each year, CCV publishes a “scorecard” that rates legislators on their votes so that the public can be informed about the conservation leadership of their representatives.

We are very lucky here in Fort Collins because all three of our state elected leaders—Bacon, Fischer, and Kefalas—received a rating of 100% on the scorecard. Additionally, Representative Don Marostica of Loveland received an 80% score.

To honor these leaders—and to celebrate conservation in Larimer County—CCV is throwing a party on August 16, from 5:00-8:00pm, at Avogadro’s Number in Fort Collins. The public is invited. The event is also a fundraiser to help support candidates in the 2008 election who support conservation.

In addition to honoring Bacon, Fischer, and Kefalas, the party at Avogadro’s will be hosted by several local elected leaders and many local conservationists. Colorado House of Representatives Majority Leader, Alice Madden, will be the guest speaker, followed by a documentary film about the Cache la Poudre River.

Larimer County has a great conservation legacy, and our state elected leaders are working hard to ensure this legacy remains for future generations. Come join us in this celebration of our past success and future promise.
Gary Wockner lives in Fort Collins.