Skip to main content area Skip to institutional navigation Skip to sub-navigation

2015 State of the Rockies Report

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. This year's Report, titled Large Area and Landscape Conservation in the Rocky Mountain West: Conserving Communities, Economies, and Environments, focuses on different elements of landscape-scale conservation. From state wolf management to the role ranching plays in conservation, the sections of this report are the result of a year of work from out State of the Rockies Project Fellows.

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? 

Download the Social Capital and Ranching: A Partnership of Conservation in the West section from the 2015 State of the Rockies Report here. 

April 24, 2015- Canyonlands as a Contested Landscape of Conservation

In this section of the 2015 State of the Rockies Report, Rockies Project Fellow Brooke Larsen, analyzes the contested landscape of the Greater Canyonlands and the larger Southeastern Utah region. The year 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of the designation of Canyonlands National Park, but the conservation of the larger Canyonlands landscape still remains uncertain. Brooke analyzed four different policy case studies applicable to public lands across the state of Utah, all with potential implications for the future of Canyonlands. These include America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act, Utah’s Transfer of Public Lands Act, the proposed Canyonlands National Park expansion and Greater Canyonlands National Monument, and the Eastern Utah Public Land Initiative. These case studies not only provide a glimpse into the potential future of the Canyonlands landscape, but they also reveal cultural, political, socioeconomic, and legal factors important for understanding why landscapes such as Canyonlands are so contested in Southern Utah.

Download the Canyonlands as a Contested Landscape of Conservation section from the 2015 State of the Rockies Report here. 

April 10, 2015- Melting Alpine Glaciers in the Rocky Mountains

This is the first of five sections for the 2015 State of the Rockies Report. In this section, Rockies Project Fellow Kevin Moss, examines the different impacts of melting alpine glaciers in the Rocky Mountain West with a comparative study of glaciers in Montana's Glacier National Park and those in Wyoming's Wind River Range: 

"Climate change is affecting Western landscapes in many ways, from the subtle to exceedingly obvious. One of the clearest examples is the rapidly shrinking glaciers in Wyoming and Montana. This past year, Rockies Project Student Researcher Kevin Moss investigated how the melting glaciers in the Wind River Range and Glacier National Park are affecting humans, species, and ecosystems. By corroborating scholarly articles with in-person interviews, he came to fully appreciate how crucial glacial meltwater is to the health of ecosystems and society alike." 

Download the Melting Alpine Glaciers in the Rocky Mountains section from the 2015 State of the Rockies Report here.