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Saturday, June 3, 2023

SJWCD board initiates nomination for state park for district property

By Joe Napolitan
Staff Writer

On Monday, April 19, the San Juan Water Conservation District (SJWCD) Board of Directors voted in support of initiating the nomination process for the San Juan Headwaters Reservoir Project property, also commonly known as Dry Gulch Reservoir, to be considered as a state park.

“It seems like the timing is right for us to consider the San Juan Headwaters Reservoir Project property for a state park nomination,” explained Doug Secrist, a SJWCD board member. “We’re going to be getting into management of that property in 2023. We are not a property management agency, but we are going to have this property on our hands in the very near future, so we’re going to have to start looking at our options for management.”

The decision was made in response to an initiative to identify potential state park candidates by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), an agency that has already taken interest in assisting with development of recreation in riverfront property adjacent to the project. 

Members of the SJWCD board have already met with representatives from CPW and stated that the agency understands there may eventually be a reservoir constructed along with campgrounds, Secrist explained.

“I wanted to bring it to our board first to see if the board would support it before contacting other agencies involved,” Secrist added. 

The SJWCD board was in unanimous support of moving forward with the initiative. 

Board president Al Pfister and Secrist will be leading the charge to gain approval for nomination from associated agencies such as Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) and Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). The nomination will need to be solidified for proposal within the next three to four weeks.

“I think it’s an exciting opportunity to find a partner for the management of property we [jointly own] with PAWSD,” stated Pfister.

“I think this is a good idea. I want to make sure that PAWSD is in the loop and is behind it,” added board treasurer Bill Hudson.

Secrist went on to clarify that the initiative is only a nomination for consideration, and the final decision about whether or not it would eventually become a state park will come after further discussion.

“It would at least get us on the books [as] it might be something we want to consider as a possibility for how we operate this area,” Secrist said.

Bylaw discussion and modifications

At the same meeting, the board discussed a number of modifications to the organization’s bylaws. 

Bylaw section 4.b is to be examined by the board president and attorney to determine whether it is merely a goal of the board or required by law to seek geographically diverse representation on the board of directors.

The board voted to change the language in section 6.g to state that in the event of an emergency or existent circumstance, the board president may call for meetings to be held via Zoom.

The board also voted to accept the proposed amendment reducing the amount of language in section 7.e concerning the removal of persons exhibiting misconduct during a meeting.

The board tabled further discussion of an amendment restricting a board member from speaking to an attorney without board approval.

The board voted to amend section 8.g to state that “The chair shall preside at all meetings and voting on all matters. In the absence of the chair, the vice president shall preside at all meetings. If the vice president is unavailable, the president shall designate another board member to chair the meeting.”

Lastly, the board tabled further discussion of bylaw section 8.i in regards to whether the secretary/treasurer position is to be occupied by one or two people.

Other business

In other business at the meeting, the board:

• Voted that the executive committee draft a resolution in regard to filing for diligence on its West Fork reservoir and canal water rights to be reviewed at the next meeting.

• Voted to return to in-person meetings in August so long as it is plausible considering the state of the pandemic. Whether or not the public will be able to observe these in-person meetings via Zoom is yet to be determined.

• Heard from attorney Jeff Kane that the new administrator position for the district should be an employee position rather than a contractor position in compliance with IRS regulations. 

The board also discussed the wage for the position, and whether or not it will be the responsibility of the employee to write grants to support their position.

• Voted to have the hiring subcommittee send interview questions for review to the board to make modifications as needed and provide comments or concerns about qualifications of candidates based on their resume. 

The subcommittee will send the best candidate to the board for final consideration.

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