FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 9, 2017
Colorado Rural Stakeholders Push for Thriving, Sustainable Future
Delta County community leaders travel to D.C. to advocate for agriculture, energy, and economic development
WASHINGTON DC—At the headwaters of the Gunnison River, Colorado’s North Fork Valley has long been a leader in agricultural and energy production. This week several business, agricultural, energy, and conservation leaders traveled to Washington, DC to advocate for a productive and secure economic future.
“Our communities on the Western Slope share a remarkable story tied to our land,” stated Alex Johnson, Executive Director with the Western Slope Conservation Center. “We found a receptive audience, and were excited to share a vision for our future with the agencies and elected leaders that can make that vision happen.”
North Fork representatives met with western Colorado’s congressional delegation including Senator Michael Bennet and staff with Sen. Gardner’s and Rep. Tipton’s offices.
Our Colorado elected officials are looking to us to provide guidance as they make difficult decisions including the Farm Bill and 2018 Budget,” said Wink Davis, owner of Mesa Winds Farm on Rogers Mesa. “We need to make sure Washington knows what works for Delta County farmers.”
The North Fork group also met with national leadership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to talk about the future of the Valley’s public lands.
“Even as we wait to see what the BLM includes as the final management plan for Delta County, we will continue sharing our story with the agency,” said Karen Ortiz with the Conservation Center. “Across the board those we met with were glad to learn about the valley’s engaged citizenry passionate about the future of our public lands.”
The purpose behind the trip was to raise the profile of this remarkable place in western Colorado which includes Colorado’s highest concentration of organic farms and ranches, amazing parks, monuments, trails-based recreation, and tremendous homegrown energy potential.
The group asserts that the Western Slope can continue to lead in energy generation. Western Colorado is rich in many different energy resources that will make the economy stronger and more diverse with continued investments in solar, micro-hydro, and innovative solutions such as coalmine methane capture and power.
The North Fork Valley is surrounded by a unique mix of public lands that includes rivers, canyons, and mesas. These prized resources are incredible drivers for our diverse and dynamic economy.
“We’re witnessing a real shift right now in Delta County, with more people moving into the area for our world-class recreation opportunities, food, and quality of life,” said Frederick Zimmer, owner of the Cirque Cyclery. “Hunting and fishing continue to be hugely important and we intend to engage valley residents of all stripes in securing our sustainable future.”
The trip included representatives of solar, agricultural, recreation, and conservation groups, and was organized by the Western Slope Conservation Center and the Colorado Farm & Food Alliance.
“Our story speaks for itself. It’s one of independence and stability in the face of so many unknowns. We will do what it takes for Delta County residents to be heard,” said Pete Kolbenschlag with the Colorado Farm & Food Alliance. “We love our Valley and county, and we want to ensure a future that works for all of us—old time residents, new-comers, and visitors alike.”
The Western Slope Conservation Center is a 40-year-old grassroots conservation, river, and public lands advocacy group with over 500 members who work to protect and steward the North Fork and Lower Gunnison Watersheds.
The Colorado Farm & Food Alliance works to connect Colorado’s farm to table movement with conservation and climate action.
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CONTACT: Alex Johnson, Western Slope Conservation Center 970-778-8181
Frederick Zimmer, The Cirque Cyclery 970-467-9477
Pete Kolbenschlag, Colorado Farm & Food Alliance 970-261-0678
North Fork Valley community leaders meet with U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and national leadership with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management the week of June 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C.