Gov. Polis taps Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs to head state’s Department of Natural Resources |

Gov. Polis taps Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs to head state’s Department of Natural Resources

Running for governor of Colorado, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, right, and Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs interact during an event in which the Democratic gubernatorial candidate unveiled his plan to reform Colorado's health care system. The announcement was in front of office of Dr. Christine A. Ebert-Santos Monday, Sept. 17, in Frisco.
Hugh Carey /

Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday that current Summit County Commissioner Dan Gibbs will serve in his cabinet as the next executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. The announcement was made a day after Gibbs was formally sworn in for his third term as commissioner.

In the coming weeks, Gibbs will sit for a confirmation hearing before the state Senate’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. If the committee approves the appointment, Gibbs’ nomination will go before the full state Senate for confirmation.

If confirmed, Gibbs would head one of the state’s most important departments. The Department of Natural Resources oversees the Colorado Avalanche Information Center; the Division of Forestry; the Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety; the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; Colorado Parks and Wildlife; the State Land Board; the Colorado Water Conservation Board; and the Division of Water Resources.

“It’s an amazing honor, and I thank Gov. Polis for granting me the opportunity,” Gibbs said. “Colorado’s unique natural resources are so integral to our identity as a state, and I can’t overstate how humbling it is to be joining the dedicated team that’s tasked with guiding our collective stewardship of these resources.”

Gibbs, a Democrat, will vacate his seat as county commissioner for District 1 if confirmed, which comprises the town of Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, the town of Blue River and most of the unincorporated southern portion of the county. 

Gibbs’ interim successor will be chosen from candidates residing in District 1 by a Democratic vacancy committee, made up of elected county Democrats and party officers. The successor’s appointment will last until the next county general election in 2020, at which point the people will vote for a successor to finish the last two years of Gibbs’ original term.

With term limitations on Commissioners Thomas Davidson and Karn Stieglemeier, 2020 will see all three commissioner seats up for election at the same time.

“Dan will be sorely missed here in Summit County, but we couldn’t be more excited to have him at the Department of Natural Resources,” Stiegelmeier said in a press release. “Dan’s knowledge of and respect for our land, air, water and wildlife make him an amazing fit for this vital role in Colorado.”

Gibbs said his appointment is bittersweet, knowing he will have to leave the county and the position he has served for eight years.

“The downside is that I’ll be leaving my position as Summit County commissioner, which has been the most rewarding work I’ve ever done in my professional career,” Gibbs said. “Summit County is truly an amazing place, and the government an amazing organization. I’ve worked really hard over the years for our community, and in the future I’ll be working just as hard for the rest of the state of Colorado.”

Gibbs said that he plans to implement the governor’s vision for protecting and enhancing the state’s natural resources. As a certified wildland firefighter who has guided the county’s effective fire mitigation efforts, Gibbs plans to make wildfire mitigation a priority at the state level, along with other duties vested in a position that oversees a huge chunk of the state’s economy and cultural heritage.


This story was updated from an earlier version at 9:20 p.m.

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