Colorado Parks and Wildlife boss announces retirement after being suspended for racist remark

Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday, October 20, named Garfield County’s Sweetwater Lake as Colorado’s 43rd state park. Behind Polis is, from right to left, State Rep. Perry Will; Dan Gibbs, Director of the Department of Natural Resources; State Representative Dylan Roberts; Jacque Buchanan, regional sub-foresters for the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain region; Jessica Foulis, Executive Director of the Eagle Valley Land Trust; and Dan Prenzlow, director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Jason Blevins/The Colorado Sun

Dan Prenzlow is retiring from Colorado Parks and Wildlife following his suspension after a black employee complained about offensive remarks he made at a conference awards ceremony six months ago.

Alease “Aloe” Lee was the organizer of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s annual Partners in the Outdoors conference when Prenzlow attempted to thank her for her contributions, saying “there she is, in the back of the bus, Aloe!”

Later that night, hours after the event, Prenzlow emailed conference attendees, apologizing for “an insensitive comment.”

“I appreciate those who highlighted my statement and how my comment speaks to painful realities that many are and continue to face,” Prenzlow wrote on April 19. “When we talk about intent versus impact, I’ve learned how quickly a statement can have detrimental effect and hurtful impact.

The statement landed on the final evening of a conference focused on broadening the appeal of outdoor recreation to a wider demographic through an expanding network of diverse partners. Backlash from Prenzlow’s statement has threatened Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s progress in outdoor diversity, equity and inclusion.

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