Salazar talks issues in Steamboat


— Only one local family greeted Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar during his stop Wednesday in Steamboat Springs, but he still took the opportunity to talk issues.

He suggested that officials in charge of lottery revenues should rethink how the money can better assist open space preservation efforts.

Salazar, who stopped at the Mesa Schoolhouse while campaigning through Colorado for the November election, wrote the amendment to Colorado's Constitution for Great Outdoors Colorado, the organization that controls lottery funds.

He also was the agency's first chairman in 1992.

In 2000, GOCo shifted some of its funding to help pay for administrative costs of the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

During that time, the agency made it public that it was having a hard time balancing a budget.

Since 2000, rancher Jay Fetcher, the president of the Colorado Cattlemen's Agricultural Land Trust, said the ability to obtain money for land trusts has been difficult, compared to the DOW's access to the money.

"We have to go through all these hoops with the GOCo board and the DOW automatically gets the money," Fetcher said.

GOCo grants that fund land trusts have been an important element in protecting open space in the Yampa Valley and throughout Colorado.

"The land trust community is feeling very alienated by GOCo at this point," Fetcher said.

Salazar said that protecting open space in Colorado was one of the original purposes of GOCo.

"That's the heart and soul of Great Outdoors Colorado," he said.

He questioned whether the money should be used for the DOW's administrative costs.

"It shouldn't be used as a bail out to the Colorado Division of Wildlife," he said.

Today is GOCo's 10th anniversary. Salazar said for the occasion, he drafted a letter to the GOCo board that address some of his concerns with its latest treatment of open space protection.

"They need to have a new vision on leadership with open space," he said.


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