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Ray and Swanda named to Colorado Outfitters Association board

Two longtime Pagosa Springs residents will represent hunting and outfitter interests in southwest Colorado with their recent appointments to a state board.

Dick Ray, recently retired from the state Wildlife Commission, is the new president of the Colorado Outfitters Association (COA), and Bill (Willie) Swanda is the newly-appointed Southwest Regional Director of the COA.

Ray has been in the outfitting business for 40 years and has operated in all of the Four Corners states, as well as Utah, British Columbia, Canada and Venezuela. He moved his operation from New Mexico to Pagosa Springs in 1970 and is replacing outgoing COA president Tom Mikesell of Craig.

Swanda has operated his outfitting business in Pagosa Springs for 20 years after acquiring his father’s business that was established here in the early ’80s. Swanda has been serving on the COA board as the chairman of the Professional Development Committee and will continue in that position.

Local representation at the state level is a first for Pagosa Springs. The Colorado Outfitters Association had an initial concept for local, independent chapters to report to the state organization, but finding volunteers to create an entire local board was difficult in rural areas. The COA then created four regions, each with a director, as well as one at-large director to serve on the board. The association has committees that facilitate issues within the organization, such as discipline, liaisons with the Forest Service, Parks and Recreation departments, and the Bureau of Land Management. In addition, the COA has delegates at the national level that represent Colorado’s hunting and outfitting interests with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the National Rifle Association, Safari Club International, and the Professional Outfitters and Guides of America.

Swanda and Ray received the appointment to their new posts at the Colorado Outfitters Association 2010 annual meeting on Jan. 10.

More information about the organization can be found at ColoradoOutfitters.org.