(CBS4) – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow was placed on paid administrative leave after making an inappropriate and insensitive comment. Prenzlow made the comment at a conference in Vail while addressing Alease “Aloe” Lee, who serves as Statewide Partnership Coordinator for Colorado.

Dan Prenzlow (credit: Colorado Parks & Wildlife)

Lee wrote an open letter to Gov. Jared Polis calling for Prenzlow to be fired after she “bore the brunt of this racism” on April 19.

Lee writes Prenzlow was on stage in front of hundreds of people and said “…there she is! In the back of the bus, Aloe!”

“The room turns and looks at me in shock mostly. I am grateful that I ran into the arms of another Black woman to who I could cry and hide. When Prenzlow comes to find me, he says he wasn’t aware of the context of his words and that he didn’t mean any harm,” Lee wrote.

Prenzlow reportedly shared an “unfelt” apology with Lee the next morning.

On Monday night, the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs issued the following statement:

“Last week I received several complaints about inappropriate comments and interactions at Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Partners in Outdoors Conference in Vail, CO. As the Executive Director of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources, equitable, inclusive access for all to our programs, events, and the outdoors are a priority personally and integral to the mission and culture of DNR. DNR has commenced a fact finding investigation to better understand what occurred and to help inform any future personnel or department actions. We will follow our processes and procedures in regards to complaints received associated with the conference.

In light of the complaints and events at the conference, I have placed Colorado Parks and Wildlife Director Dan Prenzlow on administrative leave, and designated Heather Dugan as Acting Director for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Heather is currently Assistant Director for Field Services for CPW overseeing operations including training and investigations associated with protecting Colorado’s wildlife and providing a safe and enjoyable recreational experience for visitors to Colorado. During her 30 year career, Heather has worked as a full-time ranger, a training coordinator, instructor, and a region manager.”