by Larry Patrick
HUERFANO- While the Huerfano County Commissioners were approving the budget request for the Land Stewards Association on Wednesday they were able to make a point about ranchers and others leaving the area to find work.
Mollie Fuller, president of the Land Stewards Association and Dave Stroh, president of the Stockgrowers Association, discussed problems ranchers are having with coyotes. The coyote population is growing and ranchers have lost livestock to these predators including numerous new calves. Fuller said her agency has had to cut back on people as well as on flyovers handling coyote control.
Commissioner Scott King said as many as 30% of ranchers in the area are liquidating their herds and leaving to find work. Fuller’s husband Larry, a rancher, is working in the oil & gas fields of North Dakota because jobs are plentiful there. Fuller said her son has also joined his dad because of a lack of good jobs in this area. North Dakota currently has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation. Mollie Fuller says she has to care for the ranch herself while her husband earns money elsewhere. Commissioner Art Bobian said he has three nephews also working up north because high paying jobs are available in the oil and gas industry.
King used the conversation to point out the value of providing oil and gas jobs locally. The Commissioners have supported oil and gas exploration in the county over the protests of numerous citizens against fracking and the danger of water pollution and shortages. Fuller agreed if the money her husband is making in North Dakota were available here, she’d drive up there and bring him back in a second.
The Commissioners pointed out that the Public Utilities Commission has approved the application of Black Hills Power for a wind farm project east of Walsenburg. It should bring construction workers to town and assist area businesses.