Ben - Ouray County

Ben - Ouray County

“Ouray county has to preserve its visual beauty; its dramatically beautiful mountains, its dramatically beautiful valleys. That means retaining strong control locally over land use decisions and providing a healthy, resilient wildlife population.”
— Ben, Ouray County

Ben is an Ouray native and an unaffiliated county commissioner. His county is perhaps the most recognizable Colorado county, with its dramatic mountains appearing in “almost all of the state publications,” and on Colorado driver’s licenses. In the 1970s, Ouray was given local land use authority, and continues to enforce a strong land-use code that protects the area’s valley floors and recognizable beauty. “[Four years ago,], the Southern part of the county was seeing massive parts of the forest die and turn red,” Ben explained. “It was ruining the views and creating fire hazards, and I wanted to know what I and the county could do. I’ve helped the county move towards better land use code for defensible space.” Ben also spoke of a state-level ballot Initiative that would strip away local land use control, something he said “frightens” Ouray locals. “It’s important to have a team player at the state level,” he said of an Attorney General.

As Attorney General, I will be a team player. Public lands are not only important from the standpoint of outdoor recreation and natural beauty, but because tourism forms the basis of the economy in many Colorado counties. Local communities’ ability to make decisions about their lands — whether by working with the Forest Service to improve forest health or stimulating an outdoor rec economy — is important. But the current federal government’s current attempt to shrink public lands threatens this system. I will work with Colorado counties and state Attorneys General throughout the West to protect our public lands.