For Immediate Release: February 22, 2019  

Group of Citizens Will Meet with US Dept of Agriculture, BLM, House Natural Resources Committee, and Colorado Congressional Delegation

Annual Visit to Highlight Region’s Public Lands as Critical to Valley’s Future Prosperity, Agriculture, and Sustainable Economy

NORTH FORK VALLEY, CO. – For the seventh year, a group is heading from this small western Colorado rural community to Washington DC with a full schedule of meetings.

This year, the group will focus on the importance of the region’s public lands as major land-use plan revisions work their way through two federal agencies, the U.S Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Meetings are to be held with leadership from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources and Environment division, which oversees the USFS, and planning specialists from the BLM. The group will also meet with members of western Colorado’s congressional delegation, and staff with the House Natural Resources Committee.

“Protecting the North Fork’s public lands helps protect our water supplies, as well as ditches and canals that bring it to our farms and ranches,” said Katie Hedley, a Crawford farmer who is with the Valley Organic Growers Association and a member of the group heading to Washington.

Others in the group include Pete Kolbenschlag with Colorado Farm & Food Alliance; Julie Bennett of Root & Vine Market; Gabrielle Louise, a North Fork based singer/songwriter, and among the valley’s burgeoning group of creative artists and entrepreneurs; and three representatives of the Western Slope Conservation Center, including Executive Director Patrick Dooling, Board Chair Karen Ortiz, and board member Tracy McCurdy.

“I have helped lead this trip to Washington for several years,” Ortiz said, “and each year we come back knowing we have made a real difference. This is a chance for government and elected officials to hear directly from people on the ground that their policies impact.”

The group’s meetings in Washington will run Tuesday through Thursday of next week, and they look forward to updating the community upon their return.

“We appreciate the support we get from the North Fork to help make this trip happen, and for staying engaged in an ongoing way with protecting our valley,” said Pete Kolbenschlag. “The work we do in DC only succeeds because so many in the valley are standing with us.”

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