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Republicans rally in Eagle County

Veronica Whitney
NWS Republicans 11-15-03 CS
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Accordingly, this year’s “Fall Round-Up” guest speaker was Greg Walcher of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

“I came to talk about how the Republicans should talk about the environment,” said Walcher, who has 20 years of experience with natural resources issues.

“A lot of people have pushed an agenda that has nothing to do with the environment,” he said. “The response to that is to do the right thing for the environment. The right way to respond is to protect endangered species. The public would support that.”



About 100 local Republicans attended the Republican fund-raiser that included silent and live auctions, a barbecue dinner and dancing.

“We always like to have a speaker who is in touch with current events in Eagle County,” said Eagle County Commissioner Tom Stone. “About 85 percent of Eagle County is national forest, so it was important we have somebody who is a leader in national resources issues.”



Walcher, 46, a fifth-generation Coloradan, was appointed in January 1999 to Colorado Gov. Bill Owen’s cabinet as executive director of the Department of Natural Resources. He and his wife, Diana, operate a 15-acre peach orchard in Palisade, near Grand Junction. Walcher also plans to run next year for U.S Rep. Scott McInnis’ seat in Congress.

“If I become a congressman next year, I’d like to concentrate on natural resources issues,” he said. “The management of our public land is crucial to the economy.”

To Walcher, the three biggest environmental concerns in Colorado are:



– The dying national forests.

– California’s abuse of the Colorado River.

– The abuse of the endangered species, including birds, fish and the Canadian lynx.

“We need to restore the natural conditions of the national forests; that involves thinning and controlled burning,” Walcher said. “California should cut back usage of the Colorado River to its share. Colorado also needs to recover about 15 endangered species.”

Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert was another guest speaker at the round-up. Hurlbert, who was appointed last December by Gov. Owens to replace former District Attorney Mike Goodbee, will face his first election next year.

“There’s lots to do, but we’ve come a long way,” said Hurlbert, who since he took over the District Attorney’s Office has dealt with the replacement of four prosecutors and the Kobe Bryant rape case.

“We have a good staff and things are good,” he said. “What is important to me is to continue to fairly prosecute crimes and continue with an emphasis on victim crime and child victims.”

Ron Howell, co-chair of The Eagle County Republicans, said he expected to raise $5,000 with Saturday’s dinner. The money goes towards different campaigns in Eagle County.

“This was also a kickoff of the 2004 presidential election,” Howell said. “To get everybody excited.”

The annual dinner gave Heather Lemon the opportunity to announce that she will most likely run again to represent Eagle County in the District 56 state representative seat next year.

“I came so close last time,” said Lemon, who in the 2002 elections lost to incumbent Carl Miller of Leadville. Lemon, who lives in Eagle-Vail, said she plans to officially announce her candidacy this winter.

The fall round-up is important to promote Republican values, said Richard De Clark, vice chair of the Eagle County Republican Executive Committee.

The silent and live auctions included VIP tickets to Denver Nuggets game against the Chicago vs. Bulls; a Vail Associate ski pass; and a rug with the presidential seal.

Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454, or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.


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