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.
2015-16 State of the Rockies Project: "Scales of Western Water"
The State of the Rockies Project focus for 2015-16 is the "Scales of Western Water." From water quality issues on Native American reservations to water leasing programs, our 2015-16 student fellows have started tackling a diverse range of issues under the broader theme of Western water. During the first two weeks of July we met with stakeholders and experts across the Southwest, including Santa Fe, Flagstaff, the Navajo Nation, Moab, and the Western Slope of Colorado. By travelling across the Southwest we were able to gain an on-the-ground understanding of the convoluted issues surrounding Western water.
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?
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.
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).
View Spine of the Rockies Routes in a larger map
Follow the Updates From the Field!