Bob Beauprez would be a good choice for sec­re­tary of the in­te­rior.

The Denver Post - - NEWS -

Bob Beauprez — the Colorado na­tive bi­son rancher, banker and for­mer con­gress­man — would be a good pick for sec­re­tary of the in­te­rior.

We were glad to learn Beauprez had made Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s list for the po­si­tion that over­sees fed­eral lands, even if en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists were not.

Beauprez has got­ten a bad rap in the en­vi­ron­men­tal com­mu­nity, per­haps de­servedly, as a man who sub­di­vided his par­ents’ farm into a sprawl­ing hous­ing development and golf course in Lafayette. And for his recorded votes in Con­gress to open up more fed­eral lands for oil and gas leas­ing while re­duc­ing reg­u­la­tion sur­round­ing crit­i­cal habi­tats for en­dan­gered species.

But Breauprez is a land man who is driven by the ethos that he should leave it bet­ter than he found it for the next gen­er­a­tion. His ideal of land con­ser­va­tion and land stew­ard­ship is based in the prac­ti­cal re­al­ity of try­ing to make a work­ing ranch for a once-pro­tected species fi­nan­cially vi­able.

On the cam­paign trail in 2014 for his un­suc­cess­ful bid for gov­er­nor, Beauprez talked fre­quently about how he ne­go­ti­ated a con­tract to al­low oil and gas drilling on his own land. He was a con­stant re­minder that development could work hand in hand with the en­vi­ron­ment.

We think Trump, Colorado and the na­tion would be hard-pressed to find a more thought­ful con­ser­va­tive to fill the role.

It’s un­clear whether Beauprez has a se­ri­ous chance of se­cur­ing the post, but we cer­tainly hope Trump gives the fam­ily man a thought­ful look.

Beauprez has strong ties to the land. He owns and op­er­ates a ranch with his son in Jack­son County. He grew up on his father’s dairy farm and be­came a lead­ing cat­tle breeder after he and his wife took over the operations.

When run­ning for gov­er­nor, Beauprez took heat for his po­si­tion that Colorado could take over some lands from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to make them pay their own way for Colorado.

His lib­eral op­po­nents eas­ily twisted that to a sell-off-fed­er­al­lands motto with­out giv­ing con­sid­er­a­tion to the nu­ance of what Beau­pez wanted to do, which was take lands that were a drain on fed­eral re­sources and find ways to open them up to recre­ation, light development or oil ex­trac­tion. It’s a prag­matic ap­proach to con­ser­va­tion that re­al­izes it costs money to pro­tect lands.

It’s ru­mored that Ok­la­homa Gov. Mary Fallin is lead­ing the pack right now vy­ing for the po­si­tion. The in­trepid Repub­li­can from the Sooner State would be a good pick. She has been a friend to oil and gas com­pa­nies in her state, but Fallin doesn’t have the ex­pe­ri­ence with the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment that politi­cians from the West can bring to the ta­ble.

She might be bet­ter equipped than Beauprez to han­dle ne­go­ti­a­tions with Amer­ica’s In­dian Na­tions, how­ever.

It’ll be a stark tran­si­tion for the na­tion’s pub­lic lands no mat­ter who Trump taps as the next sec­re­tary of the in­te­rior. For Colorado and the West, that tran­si­tion will be made a bit eas­ier by hav­ing some­one in of­fice who we know and trust.

For­mer Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez is pic­tured on his 1,300-acre ranch in Coal­mont on Sept. 22, 2014.

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