Agriculture - Generic

Commissioner of Agriculture Announces New Conservation Services Division Director

Windmill and stock tank in Elbert County, Colorado. © Chris Sorensen /

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, Don Brown, has named Les Owen of Las Cruces, New Mexico, as the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Services Division Director. Owen assumes his new role in August 2016.

“This is an exciting time for the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado’s agricultural industry; Les will be enhancing our federal lands and issues efforts by leading our Department in federal land use and planning, and conservation and natural resources issues that impact agriculture,” said Commissioner Brown.

“Federal land management, endangered species, and critical habitat designations have a tremendous effect on agricultural producers. It is vital that we collaborate at the state and federal levels to allow for multiple land uses while conserving natural resources,” said Owen.

Owen grew up on a family ranch in Corona, New Mexico, and is the current Natural Resources Program Manager with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA). His duties, in part, included promoting responsible and effective use and management of natural resources in support of agriculture through communication, coordination, and collaboration with federal, state, and local governmental agencies and organizations. He has also held the Natural Resources Policy and Planning Analyst position in which he facilitated conflict mediation between ranchers and federal agencies including the United States Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Other positions in Owen’s career include a 4-H Extension Agent and a research associate with the New Mexico State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Range Science.

The Conservation Services Division at the Colorado Department of Agriculture provides oversight and coordination of the Department's efforts to protect and enhance the state's agriculture activities as they relate to land use and range management, conservation, soil and vegetation management, grazing rights on public lands, water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat, endangered species, and energy development.  The purpose of the unit also includes administrative and financial assistance to the 76 conservation districts; and oversight and administration of the noxious weed, bio-control (insectary), groundwater, chemigation, and weed free forage programs.  It also includes coordination and collaboration with other state, multi-state, and federal agencies. Some of the primary duties include:

Provide leadership and serve as the official CDA liaison at federal meetings involving federal, state, and local government policies and analysis that affect agriculture in Colorado.

Track and engage the Department and industry on agriculture and natural resource administrative actions conducted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior, US Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Support CDA leadership in the monitoring and analysis of federal and state legislation and regulations impacting Colorado's agriculture industry and CDA in the areas of land use and range management, conservation, soil and vegetation management, grazing rights and impacts, water quality and quantity, wildlife habitat and endangered species, and energy development; as well as developing recommendations and action plans.

Monitor and analyze legal, biological, economic, and sociopolitical aspects of land use and resource management as it relates to farming and ranching in the state.

Work with the livestock industry to understand and interpret how federal regulatory requirements related to management of vegetation, soils, livestock grazing, and fish and wildlife habitat impacts agriculture lands and agriculture production.

For more on CDA’s Conservation Services Division, visit