Colorado Parks and Wildlife director retires months after suspension for racist remark

Colorado Parks & Wildlife
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers and La Plata County Sheriff’s deputies investigate the scene of a bear attack, May 1, 2021.

Dan Prenzlow retired as Colorado Parks and Wildlife director Tuesday after a three-year stint as the agency’s head. 

Prenzlow has been on administrative leave since April, when CPW launched an investigation into racist comments he allegedly made toward a Black employee. That investigation has been completed, but the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, which oversees CPW, has not released its findings to “ensure confidentiality and rights of all parties.”

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The incident in question happened at a conference in Vail in April. Prenzlow wanted to bring attention to Alease “Aloe” Lee, CPW’s statewide partnership coordinator, to thank her for organizing the conference. 

When he spotted Lee, who is Black, near the back doors, Prenlow said, “There she is. In the back of the bus, Aloe.”

Lee said the remark evoked Jim Crow-era laws that forced Black people to sit at the back of public buses. Prenzlow apologized for his comment in an email to attendees after the event. 

Heather Dugan will continue in her capacity as CPW’s acting director. A hiring timeline is still in the works , but a DNR spokesperson said that will be a priority for Dan Gibbs, the department’s executive director.