Gov. Polis Announces New Colorado Water Conservation Board Appointments

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Wednesday, March 1, 2023—Colorado Governor Jared Polis announced this week new board and commission appointments across the state. Three new representatives—Barbara Vasquez, Lorelei Cloud, and Nathan Coombs—will be joining the Colorado Water Conservation Board, and Greg Felt will be reappointed. 

The 15-member Board includes nine representatives from each major Colorado river basin as well as the Denver metro area who are appointed by the Governor and then must be confirmed by the Colorado State Senate. The Board also includes six state officials including Colorado Water Conservation Director Rebecca Mitchell, Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs, Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg, State Engineer and Director Colorado Division of Water Resources Kevin Rein, Interim Director Colorado Parks and Wildlife Heather Disney Dugan, and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser. Board members have experience and expertise in water resource management, water project financing, engineering, water law, farming, and ranching.

“We are honored to welcome these new and reappointed Board members to the Colorado Water Conservation Board,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Department of Natural Resources. “Colorado has faced unprecedented water challenges in recent years and these experts will help guide Colorado’s water framework moving forward, to protect the state’s water for future generations.”

These new and reappointed Colorado Water Conservation Board members bring an important suite of skills and knowledge bases—from intimate knowledge of agriculture, Tribal water use and needs, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation in some of our most important river basins—that are critical to securing a resilient water future for all of us here in Colorado,” said Rebecca Mitchell, Director, Colorado Water Conservation Board.

New Colorado Water Conservation Board Members include: 

Barbara Vasquez of Cowdrey, Colorado, joins the Board to serve as a representative of the North Platte drainage basin. Vasquez has contributed to Colorado public land resource management and environmental issues including serving on the Bureau of Land Management NW CO Resource Advisory Council for seven years and as a representative for the North Platte Basin Roundtable since 2006.

Lorelei Cloud of Ignacio, Colorado, joins the Board to serve as a representative of the San Miguel-Dolores-San Juan drainage basin. Cloud serves as Vice Chair on the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, and has worked as the Land Assistant Supervisor for the Southern Ute Growth Fund’s Red Willow Production Company, as a member of the Water and Tribes Initiative, Indigenous Women’s Leadership Network (as Co-Chair), the Southern Ute Growth Fund Traveling Team, Southern Ute Housing Authority, the Bank of Colorado, and more. Cloud is the first Tribal Council member to join the Board. 

Nathan Coombs of La Jara, Colorado joins the Board to serve as a representative of the Rio Grande Basin. Coombs, a 4th-generation farmer from San Luis Valley, has strived to support the livelihoods of agricultural water users in the upper Rio Grande Basin through his work as manager of the Conejos Water Conservancy District. In recent years, Coombs has partnered with biologists at Trout Unlimited to improve habitat for fish in the region’s rivers and streams.

Greg Felt of Salida, Colorado, was reappointed to his 2nd term on the Board, to serve as a representative of the Arkansas Drainage Basin. Felt is a current Chaffee County Commissioner and has served 14 years as a director of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, three years as a director of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, and was first appointed in 2020 to the CWCB. Felt has also been guiding and outfitting fly-fishing trips on the Arkansas River since 1985.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) aids in the protection and development of the waters of the state. CWCB is responsible for water project planning and finance, stream and lake protection, flood hazard identification and mitigation, weather modification, river restoration, water conservation and drought planning, water information, and water supply protection.