A high-level Colorado Parks and Wildlife employee, who got his start with the agency working in the Rifle area, has been appointed by Gov. Jared Polis to serve on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The appointment means a career change for Brett Ackerman, currently Southeast region manager for Parks and Wildlife, because positions on the five-member oil and gas commission are full-time jobs.
Polis also appointed Michael Cross of Arvada to the commission. The two replace Priya Nanjappa, who left the commission in March to take a job with the National Parks Conservation Association, and Bill Gonzalez, who the commission spokeswoman Megan Castle said recently announced that he will be leaving the commission after finishing his term at the end of this month to pursue other opportunities.
The appointments of Ackerman and Cross are subject to Senate confirmation proceedings, but they can begin serving prior to being confirmed.
One of the commissioners is supposed to have formal training or substantial experience in environmental protection, wildlife protection or reclamation.
That is the position Nanjappa held, and Ackerman will fill it. Cross will replace Gonzalez as the commissioner with substantial experience in the oil and gas industry.
According to a commission news release, Cross has significant legal experience in the oil, natural gas and mining sectors, as well as on federal and state statutory and regulatory compliance issues, and regarding tribal, federal and state oil and gas leases in Colorado.
According to a Parks and Wildlife news release, Ackerman worked 22 years there. After graduating from Brigham Young University, he worked for an environmental engineering firm and for the National Park Service, then in 2000 went to work for the former Colorado Division of Wildlife as a district wildlife manager patrolling the Rifle area.
From 2005-14, he served as the agency’s regulatory manager, being the primary author of many parks and wildlife laws, and while in that job, he also earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Colorado.
He then became deputy regional manager for the Southeast Region and, in 2019, regional manager there. Among his accomplishments was guiding the opening of Fishers Peak State Park in Trinidad.
He also led Parks and Wildlife engagement in the oil and as commission’s rulemaking process to implement a 2019 law that overhauled how the oil and gas industry is regulated in the state, including as it pertains to protecting wildlife.