By Caitlin Switzer
REDLANDS MESA-A longtime West Slope dream has come to fruition with the announcement that Colorado State University (CSU) will re-open the Rogers Mesa Research station for the benefit of the region’s producers and growers.
“Colorado State University has a strong commitment to Western Slope agriculture, but we would not have been able to take this step without the staunch advocacy of Rep. Millie Hamner and the leadership of the Delta County Commissioners,” said CSU President and CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank. “We are enormously grateful for their support and willingness to think in innovative ways about how best to use this facility to really serve producers and the community.”
The re-opening of Rogers Mesa also highlights the growing importance of Western Slope agriculture and agritourism to the state.
“The reopening of, and new investments into, the Rogers Mesa Research Center mean that we will have another location on the Western Slope where CSU can connect researchers and extension agents with the local community,” said Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and director of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station.
“In addition to infrastructure improvements and renovations at the site, we anticipate offering programs that will address the needs of farmers, ranchers, growers, and community members who want to learn more about organic farming, horticulture, and traditional farming practices,” Menon said. “We envision developing an Agricultural Incubator and Training Center which will address local and regional issues related to conventional and organic production systems as well as offer business and scientific training to help new and existing farmers overcome the barriers to entering farming.
“CSU remains committed to supporting agriculture on the Western Slope, and the redevelopment of this facility will allow us to enhance and expand our research, extension, and engagement activities.”
First opened in 1961 and closed in 2011 in response to budget cuts, the station has for the past several years been the focus of community groups and others, who worked to keep CSU from selling the 83-acre site.
Delta County Commissioner Mark Roeber said, “We were encouraging CSU to stay involved all along. We are glad they are keeping a presence in the County and on the Western Slope; they are the land grant university for the state, and they need to keep a presence here.
“We are very excited about this.”
The Delta County Independent reported on July 19 that Rep. Millie Hamner had initially approached a CSU liaison, and then worked with the state’s Joint Budget Committee to allocate about $875,000 through the budget process.
For Hamner, the opportunities that the re-opening will bring to the Western Slope are well worth the effort.
“I am so pleased to see that this wonderful asset in Delta County will be able to come alive again to support research, education, and local agriculture throughout the area,” she said.