Wednesday, March 9, 2011

This could change everything…CDOW\State Parks merger proposed.

(Above: The image above was for an article that was so scathing I chose not to publish it. Most of my wildlife rants sound more like armchair quarterbacking and have little real value to the reader. Somehow I managed to work it in to a completely different wildlife rant\update.)

 The state agencies that deal with parks and wildlife may soon be merged into a single division in an effort to save money, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced Tuesday.

Hickenlooper and Mike King, director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said that should their plan get legislative approval, no one will lose their jobs — but positions will be eliminated as employees retire or resign. The initial estimate is that consolidation would mean about 25 fewer state jobs.

Because of the merger, Hickenlooper's proposal to repurpose state parks that were going to be closed in the current budget crisis is on hold.

King said there is a "tremendous amount of overlap" between the Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks.

"They provide recreational opportunity. They protect our lands, our habitat, our hunting and fishing opportunities," he said, adding that consolidation "should have been done a long time ago."

The full article can be read below:

Matt’s Rant: Like most proposals and mergers it will take some time to see how this all plays out. When I do the math it is clear to me that the management of Colorado State Parks was failing financially. They even went so far as to put parks up for sale in regards to mineral and gas exploration.

The DOW (technically I should be calling it CDOW-Colorado Division of Wildlife) is funded by sportsman and even though I don’t agree with some of their management plans for certain species or areas, you have to admit that the DOW manages more and does it better at least according to the books. Without subsidies the State Park system went into the red and started betraying the very purpose they were intended for.

State Parks have spent a lot of money on their facilities making it easier for the urban crowd to enjoy the outdoor setting in relative comfort. This was a great idea but the constant renovation and upgrades were unfounded. They charge more than National Parks and even pay fee State Wildlife Areas managed by the DOW...3 times as much in fact with annual passes, boating and camping fees. With record numbers of attendance at popular parks such as St. Vrain and Cherry Creek, they still failed to meet their budget needs. Now is a great time to shake things up and let someone else give it a go. Without some type of intervention this agency would have to close and sell off half (the less popular ones of course-and a few of my favorite by the way) their properties to break even at this point.

Both DOW and State Parks have tried to rely on user access fees and the DOW may have an advantage with the fish and game licenses. The burden for the DOW will be to restructure parks more in line with the user funding they receive. Removing the redundancy and overlapping layers of management may save a few places from being prostituted more than they already have been. The DOW manages wildlife issues within the State Parks already so this merger makes a lot of sense financially. Money drives habitat management making this a crucial component for the short and long term. For every wildlife project, managing area and even proposals money is the primary factor for success and failure.

Right now this is just a proposal. Hopefully the details are worked out on the table with the least amount of impact to employees. Most of all I want State Parks to become more efficient and end the financial issues that would eventually doom all State Park managed lands. 

Good luck and good fishing.

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