U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was named the 2012 Champion of the Rockies at Colorado College’s ninth annual State of the Rockies Conference. Salazar, who graduated from CC in 1977 with a degree in political science, was presented the award on Monday, April 9 by Walt Hecox, faculty director of CC's State of the Rockies Project.
Salazar and Marcia McNutt, director of the U.S. Geological Survey and a 1974 graduate of Colorado College, both spoke on the opening day of the two-day conference. Salazar gave the keynote presentation, titled “Energy, Water, and Conservation in the West,” and McNutt discussed “Science for Sustainability in the Rocky Mountain West.”
The Champion of the Rockies Award was initiated in 2007 to honor leaders of vision, drive, and determination whose efforts are positively shaping the Rocky Mountain region’s present and future. As Secretary of the Interior, Salazar is in charge of the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the United States Geological Survey, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal agencies overseen by the Interior Department.
Salazar served as a United States senator from Colorado from 2005 to 2009. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate, he served as attorney general of Colorado from 1999 to 2005. In 1990, Salazar was appointed by then-Gov. Roy Romer as director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. As the first chairman of Great Outdoors Colorado, Salazar built the program one of the most successful land conservation efforts in the United States. Born in Alamosa, Colo., Salazar has ancestors in the Southwestern United States dating back from the 16th century.
Previous recipients of the Champion of the Rockies award include environmentalist and philanthropist Ted Turner; Ed and Betsy Marston, the former publisher and editor, respectively, of the High Country News in Paonia, Colo.; and author and conservationist Terry Tempest Williams.