Wildlife, parks offices might be merged
The newly merged Colorado Parks and Wildlife division of the Department of Natural Resources is considering consolidating some of its regional offices, its executive director told state lawmakers this week.
Rick Cables told the Capital Development Committee that while no decision had been made, the division is considering merging several offices with the formerly separate Parks and Wildlife divisions, including two in the Grand Junction area.
Cables said a 12-member employee group from the two former divisions recommended the possible merging of the offices as a way to save the state money.
“One of their recommendations was we end up with four regions for the state ... that coincide with the current wildlife regions,” he said. “Assuming that, and that’s not a final decision yet, the question is: Where would we locate them?”
Currently, the state has three Parks regions and four Wildlife regions. Administrative offices for the former Wildlife division’s northwest region is in Grand Junction, and it has about 45 workers. The old Park division’s Rocky Mountain regional office is in Clifton and has nine workers.
As a result, it’s possible the two Grand Valley offices could become one, and Durango could house a new regional office for the southwest region, Cables said.
Durango already has a regional wildlife office, but the former Wildlife division had planned to move that office to Gunnison. All of that was in the works before Gov. John Hickenlooper decided to merge the two divisions, which prompted Cables to ask the committee for permission to delay that project.
“You may know that we already have a regional office in Durango that’s built, so part of the equation here is financial because we don’t have to build a new one if we utilize the one in Durango,” he said. “Part of it also is the proximity to parks and delivering the regional leadership in a corner of the state where parks are physically located.”
Lawmakers said it is unfortunate Gunnison may not get a new office as was planned, but they told Cables they trusted his judgment on whatever decision he makes as long as it saves the state money “I appreciate what you’re doing,” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. “I know you’re being responsible. To have to separate centers doesn’t obviously make sense.”
Parks and Wildlife spokesman Theo Stein said the division currently isn’t talking about merging the smaller, area offices it has around the state, but that doesn’t mean it’s off the table. The northwest region’s area offices are in Glenwood Springs, Meeker, Steamboat Springs and Hot Sulphur Springs.