Great Outdoors Colorado head leaving for oil, gas group

Swartout hopes to bridge environment-energy gap

The head of Great Outdoors Colorado is leaving the organization to head up policy issues for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

John Swartout said he hopes to bridge the chasm between environmental organizations and the energy industry.

“I hope to help them communicate and work with communities and enhance the environment at the same time,” Swartout said. “I think this polarity isn’t serving our state well.”

Swartout has served as executive director of the lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado since 2004.

He’ll take his new post as the association’s senior vice president for policy and government affairs Dec. 1.

He already enjoys good relations with the industry and has the support of Gov. Bill Ritter and Harris
Sherman, chief of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, Swartout said.

Swartout will “play a critical role in fulfilling (the association’s) overarching strategy” working with the state in dealing with energy development and environmental issues, said Don McClure, chairman of the oil and gas association.

Industry and environmentalists have butt heads on a series of issues, including development of the public lands above the Roan Plateau.

“I hope we can take some of the toughness out of the rhetoric on both sides because the industry is so vital to the state,” Swartout said.

The state’s experience in dealing with roadless areas has been instructive because of the involvement of the courts, he said.

“If we leave it to the courts instead of resolving it ourselves, it’s tough,” he said.

On leaving the helm of Great Outdoors Colorado, Swartout said it had been an honor to “play a role in helping to preserve the landscape and wildlife habitat that defines Colorado and to help provide outdoor recreation resources in communities of all sizes.”


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