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2016-17 Rockies Project Team


Brendan Boepple

Brendan Boepple is the Associate Director for the State of the Rockies Project. In his fifth year with the Project, Brendan previously held the position of Project Program Coordinator from 2011 to 2013. Prior to that, he was a Student Researcher during the summer of 2010 and researched the Eastern Plains region of the Rocky Mountain States. Originally from Wilton, Connecticut, Brendan graduated from Colorado College in May of 2011 with a Political Science major and an Environmental Issues minor. While growing up Brendan developed a love for the outdoors and the environment, and he later worked with environmental organizations like Trout Unlimited and his local conservation land trust. In the future, Brendan hopes to further his education in natural resource policy and management, and later pursue a career in that field. His interests include skiing and fly-fishing, two activities that drew him to the Rocky Mountain region. 

Jonah Seifer

Jonah Seifer is the Program Coordinator for the 2016-2017 State of the Rockies Project. As a student researcher for the 2015-2016 Rockies Project, he investigated mechanisms by which Native American tribes can assume regulatory authority over water quality, thereby enhancing tribal sovereignty and catalyzing water infrastructure development. He grew up in Newton, Massachusetts and graduated from Colorad College in 2016 with a degree in Environmental Science and Physics.

Jonah's interest in environmental science was cultivated by many years spent skiing and hiking in Vermont, as well as a semester spent exploring indigenous water management and justice in New Zealand. Jonah spends much of his free time skiing and climbing, as well as wandering around the southwest in search of the region's finest canyons.

Matthew C. Gottfried

Matthew C. Gottfried is the Director of Innovative Technology at Colorado College and the Technical Liaison for the State of the Rockies Project, overseeing tasks including data assimilation, GIS analysis, and logistics management. He received his B.S. (1999) in Field Biology and Environmental Studies from Ohio Northern University and his M.A. (2005) in Geography and Planning from the University of Toledo where his focus was on land use planning and GIS. Matt’s regional research focus includes studying the biogeography of critical species, land use planning, and conservation management practices of local natural resources.

Student Research Fellows 

Joseph Friedland

Joseph Friedland is a student research fellow for the 2016-2017 State of the Rockies Project. Originally from Larchmont, New York, Joseph has become an avid fly fisherman since moving to the rocky mountain west. Through the pursuit of this hobby as well as a summer spent working for the Nature Conservancy in Idaho, Joseph has developed an interest in issues of western water and land conservation.

As an Environmental Science major and State of the Rockies Researcher, Joseph is exploring how climate change is altering natural patterns of snowpack accumulation and springtime runoff in the Colorado and Columbia River basins. Both the Colorado and Columbia River Basins receive the vast majority of their annual precipitation during the winter, and rely on snowpack as a natural reservoir to store water for use during the dry summer months. Warmer late winter and early spring temperatures are causing winter snowpack to melt earlier, altering the timing of peak runoff events and changing the temporal distribution of the water supply in both basins. Joseph is researching how these changes are impacting stakeholders in both basins, such as irrigators, salmon and hydropower.

Emelie Frojen 

Emelie Frojen is a Student Researcher for the 2016-2017 State of the Rockies Project. Emelie is from Corona del Mar, California and developed a passion for the outdoors through her childhood summers spent backpacking and rock climbing in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains. She will graduate from Colorado College in 2017 with an Environmental Policy degree and a double minor in Journalism and Resource Systems in the American West.

Emelie’s research focusses on tribal water justice in the Colorado and Columbia River basins. Though looking at the causes for deferred justice, a term to describe the lag time associated with the transition from legal water rights on paper to quantified, “wet water” rights that can be put to beneficial use, she seeks to find ways to reduce this delay. Additionally, she will be exploring the meaning of modern tribal water justice and ways it can be achieved.

 She hopes to further her work in environmental journalism in the west, particularity in topics relating to water availability and dams. In her free time, Emelie enjoys backcountry skiing, rock climbing, fly fishing, and hiking.

Lea Linse

Lea Linse is a 2016-17 State of the Rockies Project Student Researcher. Lea grew up in the small mountain town of Carbondale, Colorado. At a young age, she acquired an appreciation and passion for the land and environment through frequent hiking and camping trips, which has driven her academic career in environmental policy and interest and involvement in land and resource management.

Lea is investigating why federal courts or agencies might choose to allow water development projects and uses to continue after they have been shown to jeopardize listed species. In both the Colorado and Columbia River basins, some significant water megaprojects predate the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by decades or more. These developments have serious impacts on many endangered fish species in both basins, yet federal agencies have largely avoided altering their operations significantly. This observation contradicts early court interpretations of the ESA, in which it was ruled that the ESA was supposed to give species the “highest of priorities” at any cost, economic or otherwise In my report, I explore why giving species the “highest of priorities” might unrealistically represent the way that federal agencies view implementation of the ESA, and examine other factors that impact whether or not they choose to make significant changes to existing water developments for the protection of listed species.

She will graduate from Colorado College in 2017 with a degree in environmental policy. In her free time, Lea is an avid rock climber, and this pursuit has taken her across the Western United States and solidified her love for wild places.

Mollie Podmore

Mollie Podmore is a 2016-2017 State of the Rockies fellow. She grew up in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and developed a passion for the outdoors through ample time spent rafting, kayaking, skiing, and hiking. Mollie is studying philosophy and Spanish and will graduate in 2017.

Mollie’s research looks at the changing paradigm in environmental ethics over recent decades. Specifically, she is interested in how this shift affects the ways that dams are managed and opportunities for compromise within this decision-making process. To illustrate compromises during this transitional time, Mollie is investigating case studies in the White Salmon and Gila Rivers.

She hopes for State of the Rockies research to further inform her outdoor appreciation as well as potential future work on water issues.

Amy Rawn


Amy Rawn is a Student Researcher for the 2016-2017 State of the Rockies Project. Growing up on the coast of Maine, Amy spent her summers racing sailboats and winters skiing on the icy slopes of the East. As a Southwest Studies major and Environmental Issues minor, Amy is interested in human-environment relationships and understanding how people relate to the natural world.

She plans to focus her research on the Lower Four Snake River Dams in southeastern Washington and how stakeholder groups in the region negotiate their differing interests to mitigate environmental impacts.

2013-14 Rockies Project Team

For a PDF version of our 2013-14 Project Research Team click here.