Houck withdraws from Colorado River board consideration

Listening to feedback and comfortable with choices

[  By Mark Reaman  ]

One of the three Gunnison County candidates who applied to take rancher Bill Trampe’s place on the Colorado River Water Conservation District board of directors is withdrawing his name from consideration. Gunnison County commissioner Jonathan Houck sent a letter to other county officials early Wednesday morning saying that, “many conversations and much thought has gone into this decision” to withdraw.

Houck threw his name in the hat to represent Gunnison County on the board along with Sonja Chavez, general manager for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District and former UGRWCD general manager Kathleen Curry who is currently chairperson of the Gunnison Basin Roundtable.

The river district was created in 1937 by the state legislature to protect and defend Western Slope water rights in 15 Colorado counties. County commissioners choose each director for a three-year term.

“In talking to current River District board members and staff, I was encouraged to apply because of my proven record to bring people together over hard issues and policies, much like I did in Southwest Colorado leading the 11-county coalition on Sage Grouse issues,” Houck said. “What I heard from conversations with folks in Gunnison County who have a long history with water issues is that they felt I would be a good representative for Gunnison County but they had some concerns about bandwidth and wondered if this appointment would slow down my involvement with other county initiatives currently in progress. I heard that advice and took it.

“The other two candidates have great skills that can add to the district and will serve Gunnison County well,” Houck continued. “I feel after a lot of thought that I can focus on all the things coming down the line in Gunnison County. We can have good representation at the River District and it doesn’t have to be me. Additionally, I still have the ability to work in advancing state and federal level legislation that will be to both the benefit of Gunnison County and the River District.”

Had he remained a candidate for the position, Houck would not have voted for the director but he will now join fellow commissioners Roland Mason and Liz Smith in making a selection on January 12.

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