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  • Writer's pictureMarsha for Commissioner

Happy National Public Lands Day!

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

Those of us living in La Plata County experience Public Lands, in one way or another, every day. Most of us get our water from Public Lands. We recreate on them and in some cases, make a living from their resources. I will show up and stand up for our Public Lands because they relate directly to our quality of life.

We have to think way outside the box as we aim to become more resilient in the face of climate change, rapid population increases, a growing recreational industry and compromised forest health - all of which combine to impact each of us.

As a County Commissioner candidate, I know how to interface with the range of very-complex issues in play. A total of 41% of lands here are managed by the USFS, BLM or the State of Colorado; 16.1% are Tribal either Southern Ute or Ute Mountain Ute; and the remaining are private lands. Since the County itself does not manage Public Lands and since we share many boundaries, collaboration and communication with all management agencies as well as many community groups is essential including with: USFS, BLM, Colorado State Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Tribes, the City of Durango, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Bureau of Reclamation, and more.

Our public lands are changing, and fast. This past summer, I went on a field trip to the 416 Fire Burn Area (right). I never will forget the day I saw 416 fire smoke from a parking lot in Bodo or saw the Missionary Ridge Fire plume while coming back from a day on Navajo Lake. These fires point out the critical and pressing issues around drought, beetle/insect infestation and wildfire, making Public Lands management and stewardship more challenging than ever.

I bring a skill set in collaborative problem solving and experience dealing with these complex issues. I was the facilitator for the Hermosa Creek Workgroup that developed the consensus package leading to the successful (and rare) bipartisan federal legislation in 2014. Pictured below is a community celebration. This bill, supported by over 45 interests and groups, protected over 100,000 acres including a Wilderness Area and SMA (Special Management Area). It honored important recreational values such as the Hermosa Creek Trail, respected water rights, and took care of economic interests such as the ski area and grazing but also ecological needs such as fisheries and water quality. It happened because everyone listened, and balanced ecology, recreation, and the economy.

The role of the County in these topics will become more and more pronounced. So, I will:

  • work to ensure adequate resources for emergency management related to wildfires and flooding;

  • encourage private-public partnerships related to wildfire mitigation;

  • be willing to think way outside the box related to projects that will deal with the beetle/insect infestations which have crept south into the San Juan National Forest ~~ potentially or directly impacting our water supplies, and many residents' homes and businesses;

  • look for ways to responsibly grow our recreation economy while also respecting stewardship and wildlife values. As one idea: Is it time to update the County Trails Plan?;

  • be a voice and advocate for funding from State and Federal levels for things that will benefit Public Lands, forest health, and water availability and quality within the county; and

  • Study and define specific County Government roles. Do my homework. Ask hard questions. Listen and lead.

I have lived near, enjoyed, played on and respected Public Lands in Southwest Colorado for over five decades. I hope you will be in touch with your ideas, concerns and values. My contact information is below. And, if you can, get out an enjoy our vast Public Lands on September 28th, 2019, National Public Lands Day! Below is a picture taken in nearby San Juan County on the Colorado Trail but you can see La Plata County in the distance. More days like this, please.

To get involved in my campaign, donate, write a letter, or walk/call, please go to the "Get Involved" button on this Web site!

Marsha Porter-Norton

Democrat for La Plata County Commissioner

Proven leadership for healthy communities and a strong economy

Engage, Donate and Volunteer here:

Contact me here: or 970-403-5680

Facebook: Marsha for Commissioner@MPNfortheWIN

Vote your Values. Vote for Marsha.

A few resources:

La Plata County Emergency Management:

Wildfire Adapted Partnership:

San Juan National Forest:

Colorado State Forest Service Report on Colorado Forest Health:

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