Western Slope issues focus of roundtable

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Water, jobs, federal lands and oil and gas development.

There was no Western Slope issue that members of Club 20 didn’t bring up Monday at an economic roundtable with Gov. John Hickenlooper and several members of his Cabinet.

The meeting, which included business and local government officials from around the Western Slope, was designed to highlight some of the issues — and economic concerns — that face the region.

The underlying message of the roundtable was to press the point that while the state’s economy may be recovering from the recent recession, much of that recovery has been on the Front Range.

“I feel like we’re making real progress in the state (on the economy),” Hickenlooper told the crowd at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus. “But here you haven’t recovered all of the jobs that you lost. We get that.”

Hickenlooper said he agreed with the group when it came to such things as continued oil and gas drilling, saying he’s no fan of measures circulating to limit hydraulic fracturing.

“Trust me, if you think it’s made your life full of headaches, you have no idea,” the governor said. “Every poll I’ve seen ... job losses don’t matter to some people. They feel threatened by how rapidly things are changing.”

The group questioned the governor’s executive order last year to create a statewide water plan by the end of this year, saying the Front Range needs to realize there isn’t anymore Western Slope water for it to syphon off for its own growth needs.

Hickenlooper said the water plan isn’t intended to pave the way for more transmountain diversions, but to “start a conversation” on future water needs.

“There’s no intent to try to set the stage for more diversions,” he told the group.


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Drawing Hickenlooper’s gaze outside his progressive bubble on the Front Range has been no easy task. Thanks to Representative Ray Scott and Club 20 for placing sufficient pressure on the Governor to get him to pay attention to the ongoing economic struggles of Western Slope communities. There are a lot of great ideas coming from local and state leaders on how to give our local economies a well-needed fiscal booster shot. With election year dynamics in play it will be interesting to watch whether or not Hickenlooper employs any of these great, non-partisan ideas, or remains in his safe little bubble where he appeases his progressive base and ignores the rest of Colorado beyond the Boulder/Denver axis.

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