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Colorado pol unapologetic in hoping floods wiped out endangered mice

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Greg Campbell Contributor
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Larimer County Commissioner Steve Johnson was called out by a constituent for saying he hopes the recent devastating floods killed off an endangered species of mouse so that the mountainous task of rebuilding roads wiped out by raging waters would be unimpeded by governmental red tape.

Johnson’s response to his constituent’s complaint? “No apologies.”

The short-lived tiff is buried in more important matters in Johnson’s county email inbox, which is accessible to the public online. Amid notices of evacuation operations, reports about flooding damage and messages of support for the work of emergency personnel is an irate letter from constituent Connie Gray.

Gray wrote that she was “appalled” that Johnson made a flippant comment about some mice during a meeting held to assess damage to county roads. Recently flooding destroyed many canyon highways, leaving residents in mountainous communities stranded and cut off from critical supplies.

During the meeting, county road engineers noted that the U.S. Forest Service had held up culvert improvements on one highway earlier in the year, demanding that the work be done in a way that wouldn’t be disruptive to some Preble’s Meadow jumping mice that lived in the vicinity.

The mice are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

“I hope all the mice drowned,” Johnson is quoted as saying in the Loveland Reporter Herald.

That didn’t sit well with Gray.

“I’m amazed that an elected official would say such an insensitive thing to a reporter (especially an official who used to be a veterinarian),” she wrote.

“The Endangered Species Act is unquestionably the most successful piece of environmental legislation in this country,” she continued. “Since I appear to live within the district served by Commissioner Johnson, I have been widely publicizing this horrible quote. You certainly will never have my vote — and I know quite a few others in your district who feel the same way.”

Johnson, apparently, couldn’t care less.

“I guess I care more about people getting out than saving mice,” he replied. “I’m appalled you don’t. No apologies here.”

“Of course I care about the people who have been stranded, but that doesn’t automatically mean I want a rare species gone,” Gray fired back. “You, sir, are a pompous ass!”

Johnson then took the argument public, posting about it on his official Facebook page.

“A Ms. Connie Gray of Loveland wrote me to say she was appalled that I placed the safety and ability of flood survivors to return to their home above protecting some alleged mice that may be in the area and delaying road projects,” he wrote. “Silly woman, I do care about endangered species, but I care far, far more about the lives and safety of citizens I have the honor and duty of representing.”

The cost of repairing roads in Larimer County will likely be in the tens of millions of dollars, according to the Reporter Herald. The Colorado Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are expected to begin working on high priority roads soon.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

Greg Campbell