Division of Wildlife Creates New Southwest Region

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The Division of Wildlife has taken its existing resources and recommended a new fourth management region in southwest Colorado to better manage the state's wildlife resources and provide customer service in that area.

The new southwest region, which currently has its headquarters in the Division of Wildlife's (DOW) Durango fish hatchery, began operating Dec. 1. Tom Spezze, who has had a distinguished 22-year career with the Division of Wildlife, was named regional manager of the new region. Spezze will be responsible for organizing the redistribution of DOW staff and resources in the southwest region.

"I am excited about the opportunity," said Spezze. "The new region will allow the Division to better represent and serve constituents in the area. Creating this hub in the southwest will allow better communication with landowners, ranchers, the Southern Ute Tribal Councils and sportsmen about issues that affect the southwest corner of the state. Our goal is to provide the most efficient and effective representation to all constituents in the southwest Colorado."

Before the southwest region was created, the DOW's management structure was divided into three management regions: northeast, southeast and west. The decision to create the southwest region was made by an eight-member DOW work group drawn from the agency.

The group recommended a fourth region because of the substantial challenges posed by the large geographic area, varied constituent base in the west region and the wide variety of wildlife. It also considered the intensity of wildlife management and public service issues in the existing west region, and the large number of organizations, interest groups, agencies and individuals involved in those issues.

"The former boundaries of the western region made it difficult for the regional manager to fulfill major responsibilities," said Bruce McCloskey, the DOW's deputy director and a member of the work group. "The decision to reorganize our resources on the Western Slope will optimize resources and provide more opportunities for the northwestern and southwestern regional managers to be more effective on a wide variety of significant issues facing western Colorado."

The southwest region will include: the San Luis Valley east to the top of the Sangre De Cristo Range, south to the New Mexico border, west to Utah, north to the Delta-Mesa County line and back east to the top of the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass. The San Luis Valley, Durango, the Four Corners area Montrose, Delta, Hotchkiss, Paonia, Cedaredge and the Gunnison Basin will be located in the new region.