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2018 State of the Rockies Report: 

Western Forests in the Anthropocene

2018 State of the Rockies Report cover

The dawning of the Anthropocene was a keystone moment in Earth’s natural history. It is an era defined, in part, by anthropogenic climate change, the integration of plastics into the strata of Earth’s geologic story, and the beginning of what biologists call “Earth’s Sixth Mass Extinction.”

The Anthropocene represents more than just these dramatic, global-scale challenges, however. It manifests right in our backyard: the American West, and in particular, the Pikes Peak Region. Human impacts on western ecosystems has many faces, and a similarly varied set of fields must be drawn upon to understand and mitigate these impacts.

In the pages of this report, you will find meticulously prepared, collaborative research which investigates the most fundamental elements of challenges presented by the Anthropocene. The 2017-18 State of the Rockies Student Fellows have channeled their intellect, curiosity, and sensitivity into illuminating the objective truths, nuances, and injustices which define their chosen topics. This has been the essence of the Colorado College State of the Rockies Report since its first publication in 2004.

Now in our 15th anniversary edition, I’m proud to continue this tradition of advancing public understanding of natural resource issues in the American West. It is a bittersweet moment however - as this will be the final State of the Rockies Report - the last of 15 reports which bear witness to the stellar efforts of Colorado College students, staff, and faculty over the past decade and a half. While this may be the end of a defining period in this organization’s history, our work is not done. The State of the Rockies Project will live on under the exceptional leadership of Dr. Corina McKendry. The structure, format, and topical focus of our research will surely shift as it always has, but the mission remains quite similar: “The State of the Rockies Project enhances understanding of and action to address socio-environmental challenges in the Rocky Mountain West through collaborative student-faculty research, education, and stakeholder engagement.”

When I consider the bright future of this program, I fixate on one word in that mission statement: action. Too often does high-quality research remain on paper, in journals, or online. Translating knowledge into action is an art unto itself, and there has never been a better time to act: to seek balance and resilience for human and non-human communities; to refine our personal commitment to a better, more just world; and to be the change we want to see. Thank you for reading, and I hope the information contained in this report catalyzes your personal passion or interest in addressing the myriad challenges we face today.

The report may be downloaded by clicking on the individual sections below and you can download the 2018 State of the Rockies Report here.

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