People & Organizations

Dolores Conservation District Changes Name

According to a recent Mancos Times article, the Dolores Conservation District (a WIP participating entity) is changing its name and embarking on a marketing campaign to raise awareness of its agricultural services. The first step is the name change to High Desert Conservation District. "The old name has been confusing for people," said district manager Judy Garrigues. "It's hard to promote ourselves when the public isn't clear about what we do." The High Desert Conservation District provides farmers and ranchers with resources to better manage their operations.


La Plata-Archuleta Water District

Bayfield's water treatment plant will get a major expansion in the next few months, but the town won't be paying for it, the La Plata-Archuleta Water District (LAPLAWD) will. LAPLAWD is also a partner in the Water Information Program. Town trustees approved the low bid of $7.1 million from Integrated Water Services on May 5, and the LAPLAWD board approved it on May 14. The rural water district serves customers with water treated in the Bayfield plant through a joint agreement signed in 2012. The 1 million gallons per day water plant expansion paid for by LAPLAWD is part of that agreement.


Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District

In April our WIP partner, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD), water loss report update indicated that the district’s total water loss fell to nearly half of the prior month. Much of that improvement is contributed to a significant water break that was discovered and repaired.


Lawn Gone: Durangoans Remove Grass to Save Water and Make a Statement

On May 15th, local water engineer Steve Harris and his wife Lourdes, conducted a ceremonial lawn removal party at their home in Durango. They invited a few other concerned residents to join them, and together they made a statement: It’s time to stop wasting water. One place to start is on lawns we don’t need. “If the only time you walk on your lawn is to mow it, you probably have more lawn than you need,” has become the mantra of Harris. Or another way to think of it, stated Harris, “Unneeded lawn is the like tamarisk." Of course, one lawn is literally a drop in the bucket in the overall picture, but it’s a reasonable start, Harris said.


Dolores Water Conservancy District: Water Law and Legislative Expert David Robbins to Review Dolores NCA Proposal, by Mike Preston

A recently released draft bill would ask Congress to designate portions of the Lower Dolores River as a National Conservation Area (NCA) and Wilderness Area. The much-anticipated proposed legislation was created over a five-year period by a legislative subcommittee put together by the Lower Dolores Plan Working Group.


Rhees Named BOR’s Upper Colorado Regional Director

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) recently announced the selection of Brent Rhees, P.E., as Upper Colorado Regional Director. Rhees has served as the Salt Lake City-based region's deputy regional director since October 2007. "Brent Rhees has extensive knowledge and more than three decades of experience with the complex challenges in this important region," BOR Commissioner López stated. "Through his strong leadership and his ability to build solid partnerships, Brent is more than prepared to lead the Upper Colorado Region into the future." In his new role, Rhees will oversee BOR operations in most of Utah, New Mexico and western Colorado, as well as northern Arizona, a portion of west Texas, the southeast corner of Idaho and southwestern Wyoming. The responsibility includes oversight of BOR programs, projects, and facilities and encompasses 62 dams with a reservoir capacity of more than 32 million acre feet, 28 hydroelectric powerplants that meet electricity needs of more than 1.3 million people, and multiple recreation opportunities for about 12 million annual visitors.


Evans Selected USDA’s Colorado NRCS State Conservationist

Clint Evans, Assistant State Conservationist for Operations in Idaho, was recently selected as the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) State Conservationist in Colorado. “It’s an exciting time,” shares Evans.  “I’m looking forward to this opportunity to work with the NRCS employees, conservation partners, landowners and land managers across the state.” Evans started his career with NRCS in 2000, but his first experience with the Agency was in the late 1990s while working on the ranch where his then employer enrolled in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP).  As a result, Evans gained experience in conservation planning and practice implementation thru financial assistance programs from the customer’s perspective.  He enjoyed working with the NRCS field staff so much that he decided to pursue a career with the Agency. After his tenure as a technician, Evans served in two Kansas field offices, was promoted to District Conservationist in Kingman, Kansas, moved to the Kansas State Office where he served as a Resource Conservationist on the programs staff, and then was selected as Idaho’s Assistant State Conservationist for Programs in 2009. He transferred to serve as Idaho’s Assistant State Conservationist for Operations in 2013. Additionally and in cooperation with his permanent assignments, Evans served on numerous details in other states and Washington, DC. Evans attended Kansas State University where he studied animal science, agri-business, and agronomy earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Agriculture. 


Brown Named Colorado Agriculture Commissioner

In late January Governor Hickenlooper announced Don Brown will be the new Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture. He replaces John Salazar who retired in December, having served since 2011. “We are fortunate to welcome Don Brown to the team and thrilled to add his experience and leadership to Colorado’s thriving agriculture industry,” said Hickenlooper. “Agriculture is a critical sector for our economy, contributing $40 billion and providing nearly 173,000 jobs annually. Having Don at the helm, we know agriculture across Colorado will continue to grow.” As commissioner, Brown will lead the department’s daily operations, direct its 300 employees, and oversee the agency’s seven divisions. Brown, a third-generation farmer in Yuma County, has run several successful businesses while spending most of his career managing and growing his family’s extensive farm operations. He has also been active in water conservation, energy development, and technology innovation issues within the industry. Brown is a recipient of the Bill Seward Memorial Award--Lifetime Achievement for Outstanding Cattle Producer. He is active in the National Cattlemen’s Association, Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, National Corn Growers, and the Colorado Corn Growers Association. He also served as president of the Yuma County Cattlemen’s Association and state president of the Future Farmers of America. Brown graduated with a degree in agriculture from Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, and received a vocational agriculture education degree with honors from Colorado State University.


Simpson Selected CDWR New Division 7 Assistant Manager

The Colorado Division of Water Resources (CDWR) has hired John Simpson as the new Assistant Division Engineer for the Dolores/San Juan River Basin, Durango Office. The CDWR is responsible for administering water rights, groundwater well permitting, hydrography, and dam safety in the Basin. Simpson is a Professional Engineer with 15 years experience in engineering and water resources. He received his undergraduate degree from the Colorado School of Mines in Engineering with a Civil Engineering emphasis. He received his master’s degree from Michigan Technological University in Civil Engineering with a specialty in Water Resources. John has previously worked in the private and public sectors on projects such as development projects in the Durango area to community water projects in Honduras with the Peace Corps. John worked extensively in the mountain and prairie states in water resource administration while with the United States Fish and Wildlife. While with the Fish and Wildlife, he was a Professional Engineer in Utah, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Colorado. As a Durango High School graduate, John is excited to return to the Four Corners. John and his family live in Durango, where he is active in the community as a high school wrestling referee.


Reece Appointed New Club 20 Executive Director

Club 20 was founded in 1953 to enable Western Slope cities, counties and businesses to speak with one voice to the state legislature. Today, the 62-year-old lobbying organization is being led by one of its youngest executive directors, a former aide to U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-CD 3), Christian Reece. Reece grew up in an Air Force family, traveling and relocating frequently, until her father retired and moved his family to Rifle, where she went to high school. She attended Colorado Mesa University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology and a minor in Chemistry, planning to enter medical school. When she chose not to go to medical school, she worked for a year for a security agency, followed by four years in fundraising with Habitat for Humanity, then a couple of years assisting Congressman Tipton.  “I worked with Club 20 a lot in Tipton’s office,” she said, making her very familiar with issues of importance to the Western Slope. Club 20 has 10 policy committees concerned with Western Slope issues such as public lands management, oil and gas development, coal mining, forestry, water availability, severance taxes, agricultural tourism, and high-speed broadband service. Her duties as executive director are varied and somewhat intangible. “It’s public relations, lobbying, bill monitoring,” Reece stated. “It’s making sure our membership is being heard.”


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