Western Governors Explore ESA, Biosecurity, Innovation with Thought Leaders in Wyoming

Colorado had a strong presence as the region's top leaders convened for the Western Governors' Association Annual Meeting held June 12-14, 2016 in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Colorado Business Roundtable President Jeff Wasden attended and was pleased to see other Coloradans (in addition to Gov. John Hickenlooper, of course) also involved in the meeting.

Specifically, George (Skip) Noe, City Manager for Aurora, Colorado joined the Governors on a roundtable panel entitled "New Western Economic Frontiers" to speak about Aurora's successful public and private partnerships for a more diversified economy. Many companies with Colorado headquarters or an otherwise strong presence here were also in attendance, including but not limited to Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, The Anschutz Corporation, Black Hills Corporation, Comcast/NBC Universal, Encana, Freeport-McMoRan, Newmont Mining Corporation, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., Union Pacific Railroad, Vail Resorts, Whiting Petroleum Corporation and Xcel Energy.

Here is a brief recap of meeting highlights, top quotes and resources as presented by WGA:

Nine Western Governors engaged in three days of dynamic discussions with Cabinet Secretaries and leading experts last week at the 2016 WGA Annual Meeting.

WGA Chairman and Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead released a report, as well as a policy resolution, on the successful first year of his Species Conservation and Endangered Species Act Initiative. Gov. Mead then passed the Chairman's gavel to Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, who announced that his central initiative will focus on improving forest and rangeland management.

Other Western Governors at the meeting included: Doug Ducey (Arizona), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Jack Dalrymple (North Dakota), Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), and Gary Herbert (Utah). Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon delivered a keynote. 

Annual Meeting Highlights

Following are highlights of the remarks from speeches and panel sessions during the 2016 Annual Meeting:

Day 1: National Parks, Dayton Duncan

"The National Park idea says each one of you is the owner of stunning mountains and breathtaking canyons. And all that is required in return is that you put it in your will for your children so that they can have it too." From Dayton Duncan's moving National Parks presentation that elicited a standing ovation.

"The least studied species in Yellowstone is humans." From the panel on the next 100 years of the National Park system with Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk.

Day 2: Biosecurity, Innovation, Chairman's Initiative

"If you care, as Western Governors do, about species and conservation, you also have to care about making the ESA operate at the most effective level possible." Read more about Gov. Matt Mead's thoughts on the first year of his Chairman's Initiative. 

"The current change in the energy sector presents both opportunity and challenge." From Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz's keynote on energy sector innovation.

"We've learned a lot from your states." From Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's keynote on Department priorities and opportunities for partnerships with Western Governors.

Day 3: New Leadership, Economic Development

"This will not be an easy task, and will require folks from all walks of life and all political leanings to be willing to engage in a productive dialogue." From Gov. Steve Bullock's upcoming Chairman's Initiative on forest and rangeland management.

New Policy Resolutions

Western Governors have approved seven new policy resolutions on land exchanges, invasive species, wildfires, abandoned mines, species conservation, energy development, and National Parks. 

  • Federal-State Land Exchanges and Purchases: Western Governors call on Congress to simplify and expedite the federal-state land exchange, sale and conveyance processes to resolve the checkerboard land tenure issue in the West. 

  • Combating Invasive Species: Western Governors support coordinated invasive species management including early detection and rapid response programs to ensure that actions result in more on-the-ground prevention, management and eradication.

  • Wildland Fire Management and Resilient Landscapes: Governors call on Congress and the Administration to address issues, including "fire borrowing," that would mitigate wildfire danger in western states and promote healthy forests and rangelands.

  • Cleaning Up Abandoned Mines in the West: Governors call on Congress to legally protect volunteer remediating parties, including local and state government agencies, which conduct clean up, from becoming legally responsible under the Clean Water Act for any continuing discharges from the abandoned mine site after completion of a cleanup project.

  • Species Conservation and the Endangered Species Act: Governors believe that statutory changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) should be developed in a fashion that results in broad bipartisan support and maintains the intent of the ESA to protect and recover imperiled species. 

  • Energy and Transmission: Governors recognize that not every state approaches energy use and development in the same way, but remain committed to seeing states develop policies and use their energy endowments to the maximum benefit of their citizens, the region, and the nation. 

  • National Parks and the West: Western Governors recognize the importance of National Parks in preserving unique natural treasures, providing recreational opportunities, and contributing to local and state economies throughout the United States.

Read, download all seven resolutions

This page has been compiled directly from WGA communications. For additional information, contact Joe Rassenfoss, Communications Director of the Western Governors' Association at 303-803-8008 or via email.

Join the conversation with Western Govs Assoc. @westgov and COBRT @coloradoBRT.