Martin receives Dale Sowards Outstanding Public Lands Official award

Presentation will be May 25 in Idaho at NACo Western Interstate Region conference

May 8, 2018

GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County Commissioner John Martin was surprised to learn today he will receive the 2018 Dale Sowards Outstanding Public Lands Official Award, bestowed by the National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Western Interstate Region (WIR). The award will be presented during the closing general session at the 2018 WIR Conference in Sun Valley, Blaine County, Idaho, May 25. The award is named after late Conejos County, Colorado Commissioner Dale Sowards, who helped create WIR, setting standards for leadership in local government.

John (Chip) Taylor, Colorado Counties, Inc. (CCI) executive director, handed out letter confirming the announcement to the commissioners in their regular meeting, and then shared with the board that Martin has won the award. Taylor had nominated Martin.

The nomination states in part, “Commissioner Martin’s dedication to and efforts on behalf of the country’s public lands have persisted over his two decades of public service as a commissioner. His mild manner belies his grasp of issues and his ability to successfully pursue his policy goals at all government levels. He is consistently recognized by his peers for his leadership. And his traditional western appearance is a continuous reminder of the self-reliant independence that still permeates the spirit of all of us in the West who live near and interact with public lands.”

Garfield County is approximately 60 percent public lands, which Taylor paid tribute to in the nomination, “Over half of his county, nearly 1.2 million acres, is public lands. The public lands in his custody include lands valued in their natural, undeveloped state, and also public lands that are used for recreation and lands that contain very valuable extractable resources.

“Commissioner Martin has always worked to consider and to balance the competing interests of his constituents, who do not always share the same priorities for Garfield County’s public lands. Nevertheless, he has been successful locally in being a wise custodian of the fiscal resources that have accrued to the county from public lands sources. He was instrumental in securing the passage of state legislation to maximize federal lease payments to local communities, and in taking advantage of that legislation in his own county. He and his fellow commissioners’ sound stewardship allowed them to responsibly care for county buildings and infrastructure, and also maintain a balanced budget and healthy fund balances through the ups and downs of the energy industry.”

Martin’s accomplishments also include service to WIR, as noted in the nomination. “Commissioner Martin has been an active participant in public lands policy discussions at all levels, and has demonstrated his commitment to serving not only his own county, but the collective interests of his fellow counties. In addition to his service as a county commissioner, he is an active and effective participant in state association activities. He has served as chair of CCI’s Public Lands committee for multiple terms, was named CCI Commissioner of the Year in 2013 and received the CCI Distinguished Service Award in 2017. He has been consistently active in WIR, and served as WIR President in 2013.”

john martin wins awardMartin’s peer commissioners indicate pleasure at the honor he received.

“We are proud of Commissioner Martin. We also appreciate his dedicated, professional service to Garfield County and the State of Colorado, and his influence on public lands at the federal level,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky.

“This is an impressive honor for John, offering a tribute to his many valuable years of service to not only our county, but to the entire nation,” stated Commissioner Mike Samson. “It is a feather in our cap as a county.”

In the nomination, Taylor also noted Martin’s service as a police officer in Glenwood Springs prior to serving as a commissioner, highlighting that each of his roles have made up approximately 25 years of service to the community.

Martin offered credit to others for their value in his achieving the award, “This is a tremendous honor, unexpected, and very much a team effort locally and statewide in regards to public lands.”

The late Dale Sowards served as an appointed member of the National Association of Counties (NACo) taxation and finance committee. In 1976, he was chosen as Most Outstanding Colorado Commissioner and was elected president of the 13 state NACo Western Interstate Region, the first time a Coloradoan had held the post. Dale led two rallies in Washington, D.C., involving commissioners from across the nation. He has been credited with being instrumental in seeing that the federal Payments-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILT) legislation was passed, compensating counties with public lands for loss of tax revenue on those lands.*

*excerpt from Mr. Sowards memorial tribute

John Martin