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The State of the Rockies Project is in its twelfth year, and seeks to increase public understanding of vital issues affecting the Rocky Mountain West. All State of the Rockies events are free and open to the public, who are encouraged to join the ongoing discussion of the issues that affect our beautiful yet fragile region.

2015 State of the Rockies Report

Large Area and Landscape Scale Conservation in the Rocky Mountain West: Conserving Communities, Economies, and Environments

This year we will be releasing the sections of our State of the Rockies Report over the course of April and May to highlight the impressive work of each of our student State of the Rockies Fellows. From state wolf management to the role ranching plays in conservation, the sections of the 2015 report focus on different elements of landscape-scale conservation across the Rocky Mountain West. 

May 4, 2015- Social Capital and Ranching: A Partnership of Conservation in the West

In our third of five sections for the 2015 State of the Rockies Report, Rockies Project Fellow Max Hittesdorf, investigates the relationship between ranching and conservation in the Rocky Mountain West. Twenty years ago, the idea that grazing livestock would become a central component in the discussion of large landscape conservation in the American West seemed ludicrous. Now, though, things have changed drastically. Ranching, and therefore livestock grazing, is talked about in a way that includes it as a viable means for not only conserving but also restoring previously damaged land, and for good reason. Ranchers and environmentalists have changed how they view and manage the land, based on a mutual interest in protecting the open lands of the West. However, while it appears as if the conflict between ranching and environmentalism has somewhat subsided, there now exists a new problem. How can ranching, which conserves land, manages livestock grazing in a sustainable way, and promotes collaboration through grassroots movements be sustained on a larger scale?

Spring 2015 Plains to Peak Bulletin Released

We have published our second Plains to Peak Bulletin, highlighting our current research and initiatives. Our spring 2015 edition includes sections on wolf management, alpine glaciers in the West, and a report on the Rockies Project summer 2014 field research trip. Please explore the document below to learn more about the current State of the Rockies Project.

2015 Conservation in the West Poll Released

For the fifth year in a row, the Rockies Project has conducted the annual Conservation in the West Poll. Surveying 2400 registered voters from six western states, the poll provides valuable insight into the attitudes of voters in the Rocky Mountain West.  To learn more about the poll results, and data from previous years, please visit our Conservation in the West Poll Annual Survey site. 

2015-16 State of the Rockies Fellowship

The State of the Rockies Project is accepting applications for 2015-16 Fellows. Fellows will participate in research throughout summer 2015 and assist in the Project's activities throughout the 2015-16 academic year. The positions are open to all Colorado College students. For more information, please look through this brochure covering the Fellowship, or this job description to learn more about the application process. The deadline for applications is February 25, 2015.


2014-15 State of the Rockies Project:
Large Area and Landscape Conservation in the Rocky Mountain West: Conserving Communities, Economies, and Environments

Building on last year’s focus and outcomes, our research focuses on large landscape conservation topics in the Rocky Mountain West. This year we will give special attention to environmental governance, or how federal involvement, non-profit, watershed, tribal, and private initiatives shape conservation efforts. We will analyze their role in specific landscape conservation objectives. These objectives range from the protection of biodiversity, to economic sustainability, to cultural preservation efforts. The backdrop of this research will be the complex array of diverse communities, economies, and environments in the Rocky Mountain West.

As economic drivers, demographic trends, and political attitudes change in the American West, so too management approaches have changed to meet the varying demands of communities and economies. Specifically, the organization, management, scale, jurisdiction, and invested stakeholders shaped new conservation efforts. Additionally, as internal economic and demographic forces shape landscapes from the inside, climate change continues to stretch landscapes and environmental managers across the West. Global climate change not only threatens natural environments, but also the human communities that are dependent on them for a way of life.

To read our full Project Prospectus, please click here.

Spine of the Continent Expedition continues fieldwork tradition of the Project

The Rockies Project set its sights on a topic of continental scale: Large Landscape Conservation. Read our 2013-14 Project Prospectus here. Developing off the successes of our 2011-2013 focus on the Colorado River Basin, we raised awareness of an increasingly important movement in the conservation community using our Project motto: Research, Report, Engage. Continuing our tradition of student-faculty collaboration, we investigated conserved lands in the Rocky Mountain region and some of the initiatives underway to encourage conservation on a landscape-scale. Building on the successes of our Source to Sea expedition and last summer's Down the Colorado expedition, we also headed back into the field to highlight the important work underway through photo and video. Click here to view our 2013 Spine of the Rockies Expedition Description. Additionally, the expedition has been coordinating with groups in the citizen science community to further awareness of this growing aspect of the science community. The expedition explores key areas of wild and open spaces in the Rockies: the Tetons-Yellowstone (Wyoming), the Crown of the Continent (Montana), Thompson Divide (Colorado), and the Sangre De Cristo Mountains/San Luis Valley (Colorado).



Visit our Rockies' Expeditions website to learn more.




View Spine of the Rockies Routes in a larger map


Follow the Updates From the Field!


Learn About the 2013 State of the Rockies Rockies Project Expedition:

Spine of the Continent [Trailer] from State of the Rockies Project on Vimeo.

Check out the trailer for this year's Spine of the Continent Expedition. Travelling across the "spine of the continent",  our researchers connected with the places and people across our beautiful yet fragile region. From our tradition of student-faculty collaborative research, to our annual speakers series and conference, to our incredible expedition work, the Project accomplished many successes in raising awareness about Large Landscape issues.