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    State of the Rockies

    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.

    Our Goals:

    • Facilitate faculty-student collaborative research on critical socio-environmental issues in the Rocky Mountain West.
    • Disseminate research through academic publications and presentations.
    • Share research and Conservation in the West poll findings with community stakeholders and political leaders.
    • Increase campus-wide understanding of the socio-environmental challenges facing the Rocky Mountain Region and what is being done to address these challenges.

    Conservation in the West poll

    Climate Change:  A growing concern across the Rocky Mountain West

    Colorado College State of the Rockies Project leaders rolled out the 2019 State of the Rockies Conservation in the West Poll on Jan. 31 in Denver at an outdoor recreation industry forum, presenting survey results that show rising public concern about water supplies and climate change. Listen to the live audio.   

    State of the Rockies director Corina McKendry joined Gov. Jared Polis, conservationists and recreation industry officials at the forum and discussed the poll with journalists. Reporters from around the region phoned in to learn results of this poll that CC commissions each year.

    It found that a majority of Colorado resicorina 2 poll 2019 OIA paneldents favor protecting the natural environment and wildlife. Fewer than 25 percent favor the increased production of fossil fuels using public lands that the Trump administration has prioritized. And the survey found that a majority want Congress to protect air, water quality and wildlife on public lands.

    McKendry also served on an Outdoor Industry Association panel during a luncheon. A political scientist, McKendry conveyed the history and purpose of CC’s State of the Rockies Project and the poll. For more than a decade, CC students and faculty have looked into major environment issues playing out in the region.

    Photo:  McKendry sits on luncheon panel with Outdoor Industry Association director Amy Roberts and Center for Western Priorities director Jennifer Rokala.

    DavidSachsJordanVick 2019 OIAshowPublic opinion can play a role in shaping government policy. Poll results over the past decade show a consistent strong majority of western voters in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Arizona and New Mexico consider themselves “conservationists.” This year, the poll found that 53 percent of Republicans and 87 percent of Democrats would support local fees or taxes to protect water, wildlife habitat and outdoor recreation opportunities.

    McKendry told reporters that the poll findings reveal western values.  "That a leadership agenda out of step with those values is met with disapproval in the West is no surprise," McKendry said, “although the rejection of the current administration's priorities is particularly intense here."   Photo: Colorado College students Dave Sachs '20 and Jordan Vick '20 check out the Outdoor Industry Snow Show.  

    Photos by Jennifer Coombes

    Colorado College State of the Rockies project in the press                                                     

    Listen to the radio interview.  

    Rockies Research

    "Ute Prayer Trees" Article No. 1 Hit

    Rockies 2017 summer fellow Nate Goodman's  publication is the first hit on Google search

    Goodman's '19 Cipher magazine article “Ute Prayer Trees” ..."has been shared extensively by city and state archeologists and has been the subject of substantial chatter at conferences. It is widely supported by the local Colorado Springs Indigenous community and I have received positive feedback on social media. On google, when searching the keywords “ute prayer trees," my article is the number one hit. Additionally, local documentary filmmaker Gregg Deal has expressed interest in using my research as source material for a forthcoming documentary about cultural representations of Indigenous peoples by non-natives in Colorado Springs," said Nate.  

    His State of the Rockies 2018 report has been reposted by the Indigenous Policy Journal. "Local Indigenous community members, have expressed outrage at the continued appropriation of Ute traditional knowledge and cultural property and are asking for a comprehensive follow-up," Nate said.  

    Read Nate's report.


    Equity, Urbanization, and Climate Adaptation in the Front Range

    Research Fellow Job Description

    The State of the Rockies Project is seeking to hire 4 to 5 highly motivated students as research Fellows to study equity, urbanization, and climate adaption in the Colorado Front Range during the summer of 2019.

    In collaboration with Professor Corina McKendry, Director of the State of the Rockies Project, Fellows will design and undertake an in-depth research project focusing on climate vulnerability and adaptation across cities in the Front Range. The broad questions that will be investigated include:

    1. What are the main climate vulnerabilities faced by Front Range cities? How do these vulnerabilities intersect with regional inequalities?
    2. Are Colorado cities adapting to climate change and incorporating projected vulnerabilities into their urban development?
    3. Are those cities that are adapting to climate change doing so in a socially just way?
    4. What are the barriers to equitable climate adaptation in the Front Range?
    5. What is the relationship between adaptation to climate change and city efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

     Based on their specific interests, each Fellow will design and conduct a research project that speaks to one or more of these questions. Though Fellows will have a lot of independence in their research, they will also be given substantial support in research design, methodologies, and throughout the writing process.

     The goal of the State of the Rockies Project is to make a difference in the region through a deeper understanding of climate adaptation and social equity. As such, research findings will be shared with local decision-makers and other stakeholders, as well as presented at academic conferences and submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

     Compensation and Expectations: Fellows will work full-time for ten weeks, from June 3rd through August 9th. Fellows will receive a $4080 stipend for the summer and may be eligible for subsidized on-campus housing. Funds for regional research travel will also be provided.

     In addition to the ten-week summer appointment, Fellows are required to take two .25 credit adjunct courses. In the first adjunct course, Blocks 7 and 8 of Spring 2019, students will review the academic literature on climate vulnerability and adaption and will design their research project. The second adjunct course, Blocks 1 and 2 of Fall 2019, will be utilized for writing up research findings, presenting research to regional policymakers, and co-authoring academic papers for potential publication. Fellows will also have opportunities to stay engaged in State of the Rockies events throughout the 2019-2020 academic year.

     Qualifications: To be eligible for a Fellow position, you must be entering your Senior, Junior, or Sophomore year at Colorado College in Fall 2019. All majors and disciplinary backgrounds will be considered, and no prior knowledge of climate adaptation is expected. Applicants must be self-motivated and able to work independently, good writers, and excited about learning a lot of new information quickly. Applicants should also illustrate a genuine interest in issues of environmental equity and climate change.

     Application materials: To apply, submit a cover letter, resume, and writing sample to Cyndy Hines, State of the Rockies Program Coordinator, at Your cover letter should speak to why you are interested in being a State of the Rockies Fellow, your qualifications for the position, and what aspect(s) of the research topic you most want to investigate. Your writing sample should be no longer than two pages. An excerpt from a class paper is fine.

     A letter of recommendation from a professor who can speak to your academic skills and your ability to work independently should be sent to Professor McKendry at

    Application timeline: Applications must be received by 5 pm on Monday, February 18 (Day 1, Block 6). Candidates will be notified by Friday, February 22 if they have been selected for an interview. Interviews will be conducted the following week, with hiring decisions made by March 1. 

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