Colorado Parks and Wildlife welcomes new faces to country

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by Marissa Lorenz

Outdoors enthusiasts in Grand County may have taken note of some new faces recently, both out in the field and in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) office in Hot Sulphur Springs. And indeed, CPW’s Area 9, based at the mouth of Byers Canyon and encompassing all of Grand and Summit Counties as well as small portions of Routt and Eagle Counties, has welcomed four new staff in the last few months.

CPW Area 9 would like to introduce the community to Zachery Swennes, District Wildlife Manager of Kremmling South; Serena Rocksund, District Wildlife Manager for Granby/Grand Lake; Zane Stewart, Wildlife Technician for Hot Sulphur Springs; and Marian Cole, Administrative Assistant, supporting the local staff, sportsmen and women, and recreators in the Hot Sulphur Springs office.

Zachery Swennes–District Wildlife Manager, Kremmling South

Zachery Swennes–District Wildlife Manager,
Kremmling South

Zach Swennes is a Colorado native, having been born in Gunnison and raised in Colorado Springs. He says that he wanted to be a wildlife officer “ever since I took my hunter education course.” He recalls that that first course was taught by a wildlife officer and “the stories they told about the work they did every day made me want to be just like them.”

Swennes realized that childhood dream and has been working in the wildlife field since 2016.

“The most rewarding part of working with wildlife for me,” explains Sweenes, “is helping protect the resource and helping to perpetuate the wise use of the wildlife resource for future generations.”

Swennes relocated to Grand County with his girlfriend, Carley, who is fortunate to be able to work remotely for a campervan rental company based on the Front Range.

They were drawn to Grand County primarily for the natural areas. And Swennes says he is planning on taking advantage of the many hunting and fishing opportunities in his free time.

Serena Rocksund–District Wildlife Manager, Granby/Grand Lake

Serena Rocksund–District Wildlife Manager, Granby/Grand Lake

Serena Rocksund was born in northwestern Montana and moved to central Colorado (in the Saguache and Salida area) with her family when she was in middle school. She now claims “to be a Monta-radan.” Rocksund attended Fort Lewis College in Durango and started her wildlife career working seasonally for the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management in the Four Corners region. She then worked seasonally for CPW from 2010 to 2016, researching ptarmigan across the state and living in the backcountry above 12,000 feet.

“That was my first experience with Grand County’s high-alpine habitat,” she observes.

After being hired as a full-time district wildlife manager, Rocksund was assigned to Eastern Adams County, in the greater Denver Metro area. She describes the time as building valuable experience and says that the most rewarding part of the job is “meeting all the people that compose wildlife management in Colorado. From angler to apiarists, we are all in this together.”

However, as she notes has happened to others before her, “The mountains were calling.”

“I have been in Grand County for almost six months,” Rocksund continues, “and I am stoked! Between the fishing, the hunting, the skiing, the rafting, and the mountain biking, I don’t have enough days off. I will just live vicariously through the folks I visit with while checking licenses.”

Zane Stewart–Wildlife Technician, Hot Sulphur Springs

Zane Stewart–Wildlife Technician, Hot Sulphur Springs

Zane Stewart has spent the majority of his life in Colorado, growing up on the Western Slope.

He explains that he was attracted to a job involving the outdoors “by my love for wildlife, hunting, and fishing.”

Stewart attended the University of Wyoming, earning a degree in wildlife management, and has been working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife for the last three years.

“The most rewarding part of working in this field is the people I get to work with and meet every day that share a similar love for the outdoors and the work we do,” says Stewart.

The new wildlife technician moved to Grand County with his partner, Marian, who also works for CPW. “We were drawn to Grand County for work and outdoor recreation opportunities,” he explains. “I am looking forward to the fishing opportunities throughout Grand County and the surrounding areas.”

Marian Cole–Admin Assistant, Hot Sulphur Springs

Marian Cole–Admin Assistant, Hot Sulphur Springs

Marian Cole has lived in Colorado since 2011 when she moved to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University, and she has never looked back!

Cole has worked for CPW in Grand Junction for the last year, wanting to be “a small part of wildlife management and conservation within our state.”

She describes the most satisfying part of the job as “being able to serve as a liaison to help others get into the field and enjoy the wildlife resource our state has to offer.”

Cole says that, when the circumstances allowed the two of them to transfer at the same time, she and Stewart “seized the opportunity to both continue our work for the agency within Grand County.

“I am looking forward to spending time outdoors and enjoying year-round recreational opportunities,” Cole notes, pointing to the unique lifestyle and recreational activities of the area as what appealed to her most about the move.

“I am really excited to be fully staffed in Grand and Summit County” declared Area Wildlife Manager Jeromy Huntington. “This group of people brings diverse talent to our dedicated Area 9 team, and with change comes new opportunities. I am excited for the many new opportunities they will have here in Grand County as they join the great community we serve.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is a state agency, established to “perpetuate the wildlife resources of the state, to provide a quality state parks system, and to provide enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities that educate and inspire current and future generations to serve as active stewards of Colorado’s natural resources.”

CPW currently manages 42 state parks and over 300 wildlife areas, covering about 900,000 acres of land and including 960 species of wildlife. It is responsible for the regulation of fishing and hunting in the state and helps to oversee wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails , boating , and outdoor education.

For more information on Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the many programs it oversees, go to www.cpw.state.co.us.