Get ready to talk wolves this summer, because Colorado Parks and Wildlife is planning more than 40 meetings across the state to gather public feedback on wolf reintroduction.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission heard a presentation Thursday from consulting firm Keystone Policy Center that is planning the extensive outreach effort, which will take place in July and August. Keystone Police Center Senior Policy Director Julie Shapiro said they were planning multiple types of public engagement in locations around the state.
There will be 13 regional open houses held, in which participants will move through different stations representing specific issues within the wolf reintroduction planning process. Specific dates, times and locations have not been released, but seven meetings are planned for the Western slope, including in Grand Junction, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Montrose. Anyone can attend the open houses.
“The objective of the open houses is to collect public input on specific charge questions and topics to inform the wolf reintroduction planning process,” Shapiro said. “Of course, we’re very early in our plans so we’ll be asking the public about general topics.”
Since wolves will be released on the Western Slope, as mandated in Proposition 114, the commission will also hold 17 in-person western Colorado focus groups. These will be smaller meetings of 15 to 20 invited participants, which could include local elected officials, conservation leaders and economic development leaders.
“The western Colorado focus groups are meant for more in-depth roundtable discussions with invited leaders to further understand local attitudes and perspectives on planning topics and additional issues unique to various communities,” Shapiro said. “This will particularly enable additional outreach to target stakeholders in western Colorado.”
There will also be 10, interest-based focus groups, two tribal consultations and one, one-day virtual statewide town hall.
The commission members urged the consultants to do what they could to make all the meetings as easy to attend as possible by holding them at times convenient for working people. Commissioner Dallas May also stressed how important it is to get feedback from those directly impacted.
“The most important thing for me in this whole process is that the people who are most affected have the ability to be heard, those concerns are addressed and there is nobody who is disenfranchised,” May said.