Wildlife, Parks merger bill is signed

The state boards that oversee the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Colorado State Parks can begin their work to consolidate, now that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed a bill Monday allowing them to do so.

The measure, introduced by Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, is designed to save the state money, reduce the number of state jobs and streamline the two agencies, which both operate within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

Under the bill, the 11-member Colorado Wildlife Commission and the five-member Colorado State Parks Board will merge into a 16-member Parks and Wildlife Board.

That panel will look into detail about the particulars of combining DOW with the parks division.

The merger is expected to save the state about $4 million a year initially, primarily through the elimination of 25 redundant positions. Department officials said more savings could be found as the new board works out a plan to merge the two agencies.

“Through this bill, we will continue to provide opportunities for outdoor recreation while managing and protecting Colorado’s wildlife resources,” Schwartz said in a statement.

The bill’s signing was only one of several by Hickenlooper in the past month, with more to come.

The governor has held numerous bill-signing ceremonies around the state this month, a trip that’s taken him from Aurora to Grand Junction, with several stops between.

Today, he’s scheduled to be in Colorado Springs, to sign a measure restoring a sales-tax exemption on downloaded computer software. Near the end of the week, he’ll be in Durango to sign a measure aimed at the state’s conservation easement program.

On Wednesday, he’s scheduled to be in Montrose to sign a measure to continue two successful teen pregnancy programs in Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties. Teens from the Mesa County program, Hilltop’s Get Real Program, are planning to attend the event.

The signing for that bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, will be at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Delta-Montrose Electric Association headquarters, 11925 6300 Road in Montrose.


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