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Politics and Government

Citizen group asks Rangely, Rio Blanco County to invoke “Constitutional Sanctuary”status

County attorney is reviewing the resolution for "unintended consequences." Meanwhile, the board governing the northwest Colorado county declared sanctuary status to protect itself from wolf reintroduction.

Rangely, Colorado, from above. (Rio Blanco Herald Times)

Rangely residents have drafted resolutions seeking “Constitutional Sanctuary” status for Rio Blanco County and the town of Rangely.

During work sessions for the Rio Blanco County Commissioners Tuesday, they asked the board to consider adopting the resolution, which they said would “make a statement” about the county’s position on state mandates and executive orders, including health and business restrictions related to COVID-19, and other topics they say are an infringement of Constitutional rights.

Resident Elaine Urie mentioned fears of mandated vaccinations several times during the work session. “It’s to save us from what’s coming down,” Urie said. As a nurse, she said she’s receiving information from the state about vaccinations.

The group hopes to get other communities and counties and even states involved, thereby sending a cohesive message “that is constitutionally sound.”

Dan Eddy, Urie’s colleague in what they described as a local focus group for the drafters of the resolutions, said he believes it’s important for the foundation of the country to refuse emergency orders that go on for over a year and “dictate our lives.”

“I think we’re all in agreement that this war on rural America is real,” Commissioner Gary Moyer said, “and we need to use every tool we can to push back.”

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But he also said he believes it’s important to look at the “unintended consequences” that could be detrimental to the county if such as resolution was passed.

The group has also drafted two resolutions for the Town of Rangely, which they reported were reviewed by the town’s attorney and will go before the Board of Trustees.

“If this catches on and moves, it has to get some publicity in other cities and counties,” Eddy said, saying after a month they’ve gotten widespread interest.

“It’s our right to choose,” Urie said. “We need to protect ourselves… We need a blanket protection for the people here.”

Interim county attorney Todd Starr asked what exactly such a resolution would accomplish for the county, and agreed to review the resolution to see what the “unintended consequences” might be.

The board will review the resolution again next week.

In the regular meeting, the board approved a resolution to decree Rio Blanco County as a “Wolf Reintroduction Sanctuary County,” as proposed by Meeker resident Jeff Madison.

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Commissioners said they had received calls and comments that the name of the resolution created some confusion, making it sound like the county was trying to be a wolf sanctuary, which is exactly the opposite of what the resolution states, which is that the resolution establishes the county as firmly opposed to wolf reintroduction.

Starr recommended “reaffirming” the county’s opposition to the wolf reintroduction plan as part of the language of the resolution.

“I debated about this, too,” Madison said. “I went back to ‘reintroduction’ worded the way it is because that’s what the ballot issue says. There’s some confusion until they read the text of the resolution.”

Madison reviewed a few other amendments to the resolution.

“I feel strongly based on the vote that we should move forward,” Moyer agreed.

“Most of the comments I received were positive,” commissioner Ty Gates said, “after they got past the title.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff maintain watch over gray wolf M2101 after it was tranquilized and fitted with a GPS collar. M2101 has been spotted in north-central Colorado traveling with gray wolf M1084 from Wyoming’s Snake River Pack. (Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

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