Brendan Boepple ’11, assistant director of Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project, recently gave a presentation at the 2014 World Parks Congress, organized by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Sydney, Australia.
Boepple, a political science major, attended the conference as a representative of CC’s State of the Rockies Project, which was recognized by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy as a “Conservation Catalyst” for its work highlighting the many challenges facing the Colorado River, as well as its efforts to work with various groups to find ways to restore the Colorado River Delta.
"To present the work we've conducted at CC to the world's oldest global environmental network was truly an incredible honor,” Boepple said. “It was particularly special to be recognized for our work on the Colorado River from 2011-12, which combined CC's spirit of adventure and the place-based research for which the college has become well-known.”
As part of the recognition, Boepple also had a piece published by the Global Post through the GroundTruth Project. The essay, “How to keep the American Southwest from Drying up altogether,” is the first in a series titled “Conservation Innovation: Voices of a New Generation,” written for presentation during the World Parks Congress.
In the essay, Boepple presents the limitations of the Colorado River, one of the important water sources in the United States, and discusses what CC’s State of the Rockies Project has done to promote understanding and cooperation among various stakeholders. Boepple quotes author Stephen Trimble, saying “we need to bring everyone to the table and then take the table outdoors. We need to stomp along the river bank, and walk the irrigation ditches, and talk about the water in the ditch, versus the water in the river.”
In 2011 and 2012, the State of the Rockies Project set out to do just that. By addressing some of the Colorado River basin’s key issues – ecology, legal framework and culture, as well as its agricultural, industrial, commercial and residential uses, the project worked to convey to citizens and policy-makers the complexity and intricacies of the immense watershed.
Boepple’s essay also highlights the 1,700-mile kayak journey undertaken by Will Stauffer-Norris ’11 and Zak Podmore ’11, chronicling their trip from the river’s headwaters in the Wind River Range of Wyoming to the parched river delta of the Sea of Cortez.
“While I was honored to have represented the State of the Rockies Project, the recognition represented a result of a true team effort, combining CC students, staff, faculty, and alumni to raise awareness of the river. The Rockies Project will continue to strive for these approaches to conservation research that incorporates disciplines and communities from across campus,” Boepple said.
The State of the Rockies Project is now in its 12th year. Founded by Walt Hecox, the program is now directed by Associate Professor Eric Perramond, who holds a joint appointment in both the Environmental and Southwest Studies programs at Colorado College.