Back on Nov 3, 2020, Colorado voters narrowly approved wolf introduction into the state. Although the vote passed, it was largely opposed by many of the more rural counties in the state. Of the 64 counties within the state, only 13 received an affirmative vote for wolf reintroduction. The results of the vote have left many counties in the state feeling that people in the urbanized counties now get to decide what happens within the rural counties as well.
The Rio Blanco County Board of County Commissioners passed a resolution on March 16, 2021. The resolution makes it known that the county strongly opposes the reintroduction of wolves. This resolution states that the county will be open to natural migration and repopulation of wolves. However, the county will not allow for artificially introduced wolves to be released in the county. The resolution also states that any lands designated as wolf reintroduction land can not be within the county. Likewise, other counties that agree with the Wolf Reintroduction Sanctuary County Resolution can also adopt it and join Rio Blanco County.
During a Commission session on March 9th, the Commissioners heard from several local residents as well as former Colorado Division of Wildlife Biologist, Jeff Madison. Many of the residents were worried about the economic impact that the wolf reintroduction may cause. Madison was the first person to suggest the Wolf Reintroduction Sanctuary County idea. This idea was met with excitement by residents and Commissioners alike.
Rio Blanco County maintains an $18.8 million agriculture industry from cattle, sheep, and hay production. The Northwest Region of Colorado, including Rio Blanco County, reports the largest amount of outdoor recreation in the state spending at $10.3 billion according to the Economic Contributions of Outdoor Recreation in Colorado.