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