10th Annual Poll Event & 2020 Symposium Speakers and Panelists

Colorado College State of the Rockies

Future of the West Syposium
& 10th Annual Conservation in the West
Poll Release


Winter Sunrise at Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Photo by Stephen Weaver

Conservation in the West poll shines light on western voters' conservation concerns: bipartisan public opinion survey tracks 10 years of survey results

by Josie McCauley, '21

This February 20, 2020 the State of the Rockies Project celebrated the release of the 2020 Conservation in the West Poll Results during the 2020 Future of the West Symposium, with students, faculty, community members, and stakeholders all present.

Montana Governor Steve Bullock delivered the opening keynote address, emphasizing the unique connection Westerners have with the land and the importance of conserving such areas.

GovBullock podiumFEB2020

Poll results were delivered by Lori Weigel of New Bridge Strategy and Dave Metz of FM3 Research. Through 3,200 telephone interviews in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, researchers determined climate change to be the first or second most important environmental problem for each state. Poll results demonstrate an escalating public concern for climate change and climate and conservation related issues across the West, with with two-thirds indicating it to be a serious problem. 71% of Western voters believe removing the Clean Water Act protections was a bad decision, including a majority of voters across the political spectrum and rural voters. To see more poll results and data visualizations, click here (https://www.cwpoll.org/vis/)

Montana Governor Steve Bullock addresses
Colorado College students, faculty, staff, and
guests. Photo by Jennifer Coombes

An expert panel on The Future of Public Lands, discussed issues concerning equity in conservation, cultural connection to the land, and access to the outdoors, especially in more urban areas. Panelists included Maite Arce, President of Hispanic Access Foundation, Collin O-Mara, President of the National Wildlife Federation, Corina McKendry, Faculty Director of State of the

Rockies Project, Len Necefer, Professor at University of Arizona and Founder of Natives Outdoors, and Jennifer Rokala, Executive at Center for Western Priorities.

JosieMcCauleyNETWORKING2020polleventStudents and faculty members engaged with conservation professionals from Conservation Colorado, Center for Western Priorities, the Hispanic Access Foundation and other western and national organizations. New Mexico Senator Tom Udall concluded the symposium with another keynote address, emphasizing the importance of conserving our wild lands for future generations.

Lively lunch conversations filled the main space of
Cornerstone Arts Center, Colorado College campus.
Photo by Josie McCauley
Colorado College students mingle and network with
environmental professionals during the State of the Rockies
Future of the West Symposium on February 20, 2020.
Photo by Josie McCauley

Keynote Speakers and

New Mexico Senator

Tom Udall2020 Poll Tom Udall headshot

Tom Udall has earned a reputation as a principled leader who has the integrity to do what is right for New Mexico and our nation. Tom began serving in the Senate in 2009, after two decades of public service in the U.S. House of Representatives and as New Mexico's Attorney General.

Tom is a Westerner through and through. Born in Tucson, Arizona, he now lives with his wife Jill in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Tom is part of the great Udall legacy of public service and conservation embodied by his father, former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall; his uncle, former Congressman Mo Udall; and his cousin, former Senator Mark Udall.

Tom is one of the foremost conservation and environmental leaders in Congress and in our nation. A long-time advocate for climate action and renewable energy, he is tackling the most pressing issue of our time - climate change - with new legislation in 2019 that would that would get us to a zero carbon power sector by mid-century. He led the Senate fight to defeat a 2017 bill that would have permanently blocked methane pollution rules for oil and gas production on public lands. Last year, he introduced his bold Thirty by Thirty Resolution to Save Nature - to protect at least 30% of the country's lands and waters by 2030 - and his Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act to establish and protect wildlife corridors on federal and tribal lands.

As the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency, he has successfully fought for protection of our public lands and against draconian cuts to clean air and water programs. Just this month, Tom introduced the first comprehensive bill in Congress to tackle the growing plastic pollution crisis facing our nation. And Tom was the lead Democratic author of the 2016 bipartisan bill that overhauled the broken Toxic Substances Control Act - the first successful environmental law reform in 20 years.

Tom believes that Congress is failing to address the most important environmental issues of our time -- as well as other issues Americans care about like healthcare, gun safety, and immigration -- because big, secret money has polluted our politics, contributing to rising civic polarization, cynicism, and distrust. He is leading the charge in the Senate to overturn the Citizens United decision, bring campaign spending under control, make it easier to vote, reform government ethics standards, and bring democracy back to the people.


Montana GovernorPeterman.Bullock1-14

Steve Bullock

Steve Bullock is a proven leader who has successfully brought people together to get things done for the state of Montana. Born and raised in Montana, Steve has spent his career fighting on behalf of workers, students, and families. His priority as Governor is to make Montana stronger for future generations, ensuring that his own three kids - and all young Montanans - can enjoy the same opportunities afforded to those who grew up here. With the long-held belief that public lands are part of our heritage and serve as a great equalizer in Montana, Steve has successfully defended against threats to our public lands while continually seeking opportunities to expand access. He understands public lands come with great responsibility, and is a leader in addressing impacts from increased visitation, growing communities, and climate change. He created a council on climate change to come up with made in Montana solutions, restored funding to protect and enhance wildlife habitat, launched a state commission tasked with supporting state parks, trails, and secured agreements to make an additional 118,000 acres of land public. Steve created the Office of Outdoor Recreation in 2017 to promote and grow Montana's outdoor recreation industry, which generates 71,000 jobs and $7.1 billion in consumer spending, making it the second-largest sector of the state's economy. Every day, Steve heads to work at the State Capitol committed to ensuring that Montana remains the best state in the nation to work, live, and explore.


Maite ArceMaite Arce

Maite Arce is the founder, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation, a national organization that connects Latinos to partners and opportunities that improves lives and creates an equitable society.

Her leadership has informed and empowered individuals, youth, and families on the issues of workforce development, financial empowerment, outdoor recreation, and environmental conservation. Maite's organization and leadership has resulted in Latino advocates and communities making key contributions in the designation of six national public lands monuments, the permanent authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund; placed more than 300 young people in internships and jobs on public lands and watersheds; and engaged hundreds of partners in recreational, volunteer, stewardship, and roundtable events through signature initiatives including, Latino Conservation Week.

Maite formerly served as Vice President of Operations for the Hispanic Council for Reform and Educational Options (Hispanic CREO). In 2017, she received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Logos College.

She is a native of Ensenada, Baja California Mexico. Maite lives with her husband Ted and parents, Elena and Jose near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in Virginia. She and her husband enjoy exploring trails in the Rocky Mountain west and kayaking the watersheds of the Chesapeake Bay.


Len Necefer2020 Poll Len Necefer Bio

Len Necefer, Ph.D., is an assistant professor with joint appointments with the American Indian Studies program & the Udall Center for Public Policy. In addition, he is the founder & CEO of Colorado-based outdoor apparel company NativesOutdoors. His research focuses at the intersection of indigenous people and natural resource management policy. He recently co-directed the film "Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee" about the Gwich'in fight to protect the Arctic Refuge. In his spare time Len is an avid outdoor adventurer using rock/ice climbing, high altitude & ski mountaineering, and type 2 fun to convey stories focused on environmental activism & indigenous history. His work has appeared in the Alpinist, the Climbing Zine, Outside Magazine, Climbing, Patagonia's Cleanest Line, and the Telluride Mountain Film Festival.


Collin O'MaraNWF Collin O Mara-outdoor headshot

Collin O'Mara serves as President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation, America's largest wildlife conservation organization with 52 state and territorial affiliates and nearly six million hunters, anglers, birders, gardeners, hikers, paddlers, and wildlife enthusiasts. Under O'Mara's leadership, the National Wildlife Federation is focused on recovering America's wildlife ranging from bison and bighorn sheep to pollinators like monarch butterflies and native bees, improving management of and access to public lands, restoring America's water bodies, advancing environmental education (including publishing Ranger Rick® magazines), and connecting every American child with the great outdoors.

O'Mara serves on the Wildlife Hunting and Heritage Conservation Council, the Sport Fishing and Boating Partnership Council, and the Blue Ribbon Panel for Sustaining America's Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources. He also represents the National Wildlife Federation as a member of the American Wildlife Conservation Partners, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership Policy Council, and the BlueGreen Alliance. In 2015, O'Mara was named Bass Pro Shop's Conservation Partner of the Year. He is regularly called before Congress to testify about wildlife, water, and sportsmen issues.

Prior to the National Wildlife Federation, O'Mara led the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control as Cabinet Secretary from 2009 through 2014. In that position, Secretary O'Mara served as the state's top natural resource official, and led the state's efforts to conserve and restore wildlife and fishery habitat, improve air quality and public health, ensure access to clean water, expand outdoor recreation and environmental education opportunities, and enhance the state's resilience to extreme weather and other climate impacts.

When O'Mara was appointed in 2009, he was the youngest state cabinet official in the nation. He spearheaded a range of initiatives, including Delaware's "No Child Left Inside"/ Children In Nature campaign, a comprehensive strategy to introduce children to the outdoors; the First State Trails and Pathways Plan, a multi-year initiative to expand and connect the state's trail system; and the Delaware Bayshore Initiative, an effort to establish the region as a world-class conservation and outdoor recreation destination for hunting, birding, fishing, hiking, canoeing, and kayaking.

His previous board service includes a term as Co-Chair of the Natural Resources and Agriculture Subcommittee of the President's Task Force on Climate Adaptation and Preparedness, Chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Chair of the Ozone Transport Commission, Chair of the Climate and Energy Subcommittee of the Environmental Council of the States, and the Executive Council of the Chesapeake Bay Program.

A native of Syracuse, New York, O'Mara was a Marshall Scholar at the University of Oxford, a University Fellow at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, and a Presidential Scholar at Dartmouth College. He is a Catto Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a U.S. Green Building Council LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited professional, and completed Stanford Business School's Executive Management Program in Environmental Sustainability.

O'Mara lives in Delaware and spends every possible moment in nature fishing, hunting, hiking, and birding with his wife Krishanti and daughters Riley and Alana.


Jen RokalaJennifer Rokala portrait

Jen Rokala is the executive director of the Center for Western Priorities. Prior to joining CWP in 2015, Jen served as the State Director for U.S. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado. Jen has extensive experience in Colorado and national politics. She began her career in government service working for Colorado Governor Roy Romer. Jen grew up in Colorado and is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder. As a native of the West, Jen has always been passionate about the environment and protecting our public lands. In her spare time Jen enjoys running, hiking, and reading. Her favorite national park is Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve.


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