Stockgrowers discuss business

Victor Parker, with his back to the camera, holds down one of two poker tables at Saturday night’s RBC Stockgrowers Association dinner. Other players around the table are (clockwise) John Portwood, Mark Etchart, Chad Carter (who organized the poker effort) and Kelcee Milton Vroman with her aunt, Connie Theos, giving advice over her shoulder. The game was a fundraiser for the Stockgrowers’ scholarship program. Reed Kelley photo

RBC | The Rio Blanco County Stockgrowers Association (Stockgrowers) held their annual business and information gathering in the commissioners’ meeting room at the county courthouse Saturday. Elections were held resulting in the following office holders: Todd Shults, president; Brian Collins, vice-president; Dan Johnson, second vice-president; and Lenny Klinglesmith, treasurer. Teresa Anderson continues to serve as the administrative assistant.
One-year representatives on the stockgrowers board are KC Burke, Eleanor Carter, and Dean Mantle; two year representatives are Daniel Lapp, Chad Carter, and Logan Hill; three year representatives are Neil Brennan, Coley Turner and Coe Uphoff. Andy Coryell is a board alternate.
In business matters, Johnson expressed concern about the county commissioner hearing to be held Feb. 12 regarding the elimination of agricultural land exemptions in the county floodplain regulations. Commissioner Shawn Bolton explained that this was coming down as a requirement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and that the state had not supported the counties’ resistance to this action. Bolton urged the group to look at who holds the enforcement power, i.e., the county, which, he implied, was not going to be doing aggressive enforcement. Attendance and testimony at the 1 p.m. hearing Feb. 12 is encouraged.
County Assessor Renae Neilson reported assessed valuations have dropped 7 percent countywide. Ag land valuations, based on commodity prices, have risen some. Residential property values are up but taxes are down due to the requirements of the Gallagher Amendment of 1982 which allows only 45 percent of assessed valuation to come from residential property. She reminded county residents that her office now has an interactive parcel map on the county website.
Justin Ewing of Meeker and Dave Moreno of Grand Junction, both from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, shared information about predator control, local efforts in that regard, impacts to livestock and possible increased services. Much discussion ensued about the likelihood of wolves arriving on the Colorado scene. Both men said bear activity and damage was requiring much more of their time and effort than it used to.
On wolves, Moreno reported that an associate of his who spent time in Wyoming and Montana said the elk herds, in the presence of wolves, are definitely leaner, faster and harder to hunt.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Manager Bill deVergie called attention to the Future Generations Act, Senate Bill 143, introduced in the Colorado Legislature to improve CPW funding, primarily for ongoing operations. The bill is being carried by Senators Don Coram, R-Montrose, Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder and Representatives Jeni Arndt, D-Ft. Collins, and Jim Wilson, R-Salida. deVergie said the license fee increases are aimed at resident licenses which will each increase about $8 each if the bill passes.
On chronic wasting disease (CWD) in the local deer and elk herds, deVergie said CPW obtained over 1,000 samples from mule deer in the Flat Tops herd and that whereas 10 years ago, or so, the CWD occurrence rate was 2 to 3 percent, it’s now 15 to 20 percent. The Piceance area (unit 22) rate was still down at 3 to 4 percent, but the rest of the herd had the higher rates. He said that CPW hopes to develop a plan of action over the next three to five months.
Bolton and Si Woodruff reported for the county commissioners. They’re working to find solutions on the need for greater predator management. Bolton also said they are attempting, through the National Association of County Officials, to make sure the use of electric time logging devices required of commercial drivers and related regulations make sense, especially for livestock transportation. Bolton also said he is again the elected chair of the public lands committee for Colorado Counties Incorporated.
Bolton also said they’ve been working on the Jordan Cove pipeline delivery system. He said there are no pipeline infrastructure problems here in Colorado where we have an abundance of dry gas, but the problem is getting the pipeline completed in Oregon. He expressed optimism that our four northwest Colorado counties would finally be getting the significant Anvil Points oil shale reserve dollars which have been delayed since the late 1980s.
Woodruff mentioned the county’s efforts to find a solution to the White River algae bloom problem as well as cooperative asbestos abatement.
Announcing that he was not going to run for another term, Bolton thanked everyone for the chance he’s had to serve as a commissioner, saying, “He’s had some fun.”
The group also heard from BLM Field Office Manager Kent Walter, White River National Forest range conservationist Jake Lewis, Tom Herrington of Carbondale on the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, RBC Sheriff Anthony Mazzola, White River and Douglas Creek Conservation District executive director Callie Hendrickson and the relatively new local state brand inspector Casey Griffith.