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For Immediate Release

Contacts:
Jane Turnis
(719) 389-6138
JTurnis@ColoradoCollege.edu

Leslie Weddell
(719) 389-6038
Leslie.Weddell@ColoradoCollege.edu

ROCKIES SKI RESORTS, HABITAT, RANCHING AT RISK;
STATE OF THE ROCKIES EXAMINES CRITICAL ISSUES

Annual Colorado College report and conference will also
grade region’s communities on how well they nurture their youth

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – March 24, 2006 – The Rocky Mountain West’s ski resorts are at great risk due to climate changes within the next 80 years. The Rockies’ metropolitan-area minorities and poor live closest to toxic pollution sources. As the region with the fastest population growth in the nation, the Rockies face the largest threat to species and species habitat.

But there are bright spots in the Rockies, too, including communities that place great emphasis on nurturing their youth; diversification that is saving threatened ranches and farms; and innovative approaches to resource management that help once-sparring factions find common ground. 

The third annual Colorado College State of the Rockies Report, to be unveiled April 10, and State of the Rockies Conference, April 10-13 on the Colorado College campus, will examine these and other critical issues that affect the eight-state Rockies Region, comprised of Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Each year, the State of the Rockies Project team, which includes Colorado College undergraduate students, recent graduates and a faculty adviser, conducts extensive research and creates a comprehensive 100+-page report on the region. The researchers then coordinate the State of the Rockies Conference, drawing speakers, challengers, and political, environmental, economic, cultural and community leaders who shed additional light on the report’s content with lectures, panel discussions, debate and dialogue about the “state” of the beautiful yet fragile Rockies region.

The centerpiece of the conference is the 2006 Rockies Report Card, this year featuring 130 pages of research findings, essays, detailed charts, graphics, and rankings that provide a compelling view of the region’s trends and challenges. The report will be unveiled at the conference on April 10.

This year’s report addresses the following issues:

- How the Rockies’ ski resorts will suffer due to climate change – In the first time that a downscaled climate model has been run on a regional scale for the eight-state Rocky Mountain region, the report predicts drastic snowpack loss will be experienced by 14 ski counties in the Rockies region. The model will show change in temperature, precipitation and snowpack since 1976, and will project changes through 2085.

- Who lives closest to the toxic pollution sites? – Environmental justice research shows that in much of the Rockies region, minorities and low-income residents are most likely to live nearest to toxic sites.

- Where are biodiversity and species habitat most threatened? – The Rockies have the fastest growing population of any region in the United States. The report ranks the 10 metropolitan, 10 micropolitan and 10 rural counties in the region where species habitat is most threatened currently and in the future – and the 10 counties in each category in which habitat is least threatened.

- Where are the Rockies’ youth most – and least -- nurtured? – In the popular “Grading the Rockies” section of the report, this year researchers grade all 281 counties in the Rocky Mountain West on how well they nurture their youth. The rankings measure teen involvement, family support, educational opportunities, healthy surroundings, safe neighborhoods and engaged communities.

- Are ranching and farming dying in the Rockies? – The number of ranches and farms in the Rockies is declining, but innovative approaches show promise.

- Private land preserved – Conservation easements are successful – and sometimes controversial.

- Innovative resource management – New approaches reconcile parties on opposing sides of resource issues such as wolves and livestock, water rights, ranchers and conservationists.

- A Rockies presidential primary or debate – How can the Rockies region be heard in Washington, D.C.? Researchers pose the question: Would a regional presidential primary or debate help the region gain a common Western voice?

The State of the Rockies Report Card and Conference gives community, government and business leaders the tools and the forum necessary to use collaborative interregional approaches to solving difficult local problems.

As with the 2005 Colorado College State of the Rockies Report, a “Rockies Baseline” section illustrates the region’s vital signs, including population and age, language, race and ethnicity, families, housing units, home values and costs, education attainment, income, poverty, income by type, employment by occupation, employment growth by occupation, employment by industry, and employment growth by industry. These baseline statistics track vital signs that depict a region in transition.

The Colorado College State of the Rockies Conference, April 10-13, will feature panels, discussions, and keynote speakers. Among the many speakers are cultural commentator Clay Jenkinson; Bruce Runnels, vice president of the Rocky Mountain division of the Nature Conservancy; Joanna Prukop, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources; Bill Snape III, a member of the U.S. President's Trade and Environmental Policy Committee, an environmental lawyer, former vice president and chief counsel of Defenders of Wildlife, and chair of the board of the Endangered Species Coalition; rancher and Wyoming state Sen. John Schiffer; Daniel Kemmis, director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana; Jean Belille, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and an environmental protection specialist with the Environmental Justice Program at the EPA's Denver office; nature photographer and preservationist John Fielder; and Sandy Buffet, executive director of the Conservation Voters of New Mexico.

All events will be held on the Colorado College campus in Colorado Springs. The conference is free and open to the public; registration is not required. For more information, call (719) 227-8145 or visit www.ColoradoCollege.edu/StateoftheRockies.

Conference Schedule

Monday, April 10, 2006
Luncheon: 2006 State of the Rockies Conference Kickoff Lunch — The third annual conference opens with a lunch and entertainment.
Noon, Worner Campus Center, 902 N. Cascade Ave. (NW corner of Cascade Ave. and Cache La Poudre St.)

Monday, April 10, 2006
Conference: Unveiling of the 2006 State of the Rockies Report Card — The signature State of the Rockies report card will be unveiled by Walter Hecox, Colorado College professor of economics and environmental science and project director of State of the Rockies. Assisting will be Bryan Hurlbutt, project coordinator, and Caitlin O'Brady, research manager.
2:15 p.m., Armstrong Theatre, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., free

Monday, April 10, 2006
Conference: 2006 State of the Rockies: Land Conservation — "Protecting Unique Landscapes and Habitats" will be presented by Jared Kapela, a student researcher with the State of the Rockies project; Bruce Runnels, vice president of the Rocky Mountain division of the Nature Conservancy; Charles Bedford, state director of the Colorado Nature Conservancy; and Chris Pague, a Colorado Nature Conservancy conservation ecologist.
3 p.m., Armstrong Theatre, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., free

Monday, April 10, 2006
Conference: 2006 State of the Rockies: Preserving Biodiversity — "Addressing Threatened, Endangered, and Invasive Species" is the topic of the lecture. Joanna Prukop, cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources, will discuss "Preserving Rockies' Biodiversity." Other presenters include Amanda Strauss, a student researcher with the State of the Rockies project; Randy Simmons, political science professor at Utah State University and Property and Environment Research Center senior fellow; and Anna Sher, conservation biology professor at the University of Denver and director of research at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
7:30 p.m., Armstrong Theatre, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., free

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Conference: 2006 State of the Rockies: "Ranching in the Rockies: Threats and Signs of Hope" — "The New Ranch: A Means Toward Equal Protection for the Land" will be discussed by Dan Dagget, environmentalist and author of "Beyond the Rangeland Conflict." Student researcher Andrew Yarbrough will present the results of the 2006 ranching report card, and a panel consisting of ranchers Doc and Connie Hatfield, of Country Natural Beef; rancher Dale Lasater, of Lasater Grasslands Beef; Brian Rohter, chief executive officer of New Seasons Market; and rancher John Schiffer, Wyoming state senator, will discuss the threats and signs of hope in ranching in the Rockies.
3 p.m., Armstrong Theatre, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., free

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Celebration: 2006 State of the Rockies:  A Local Rancher BBQ: Connecting Ranchers and Eaters — Following the "Ranching in the Rockies: Threats and Signs of Hope" presentation, a barbeque will be provided for session attendees (tickets required; attendance at previous session (“Ranching in the Rockies” required). The barbeque will allow session attendees the opportunity to meet and eat with local ranchers (meat from local ranchers will be served).
6 p.m., Armstrong Quad, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St. (N of Armstrong Hall), free

Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Conference: 2006 State of the Rockies: Conservation in Action — "Success Stories" will be presented by John Fielder, a nature photographer, publisher, teacher, and preservationist. Joining him in the presentation is Sydney Macy, senior vice president of the western regional office of the Conservation Fund.
7 p.m., Armstrong Theatre, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., free

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Conference: 2006 State of the Rockies: Environmental Justice — The presentation "Equal Protection for all Humans and the Environment" will look at "Environmental Justice in the Rockies," presented by Jean Belille, a member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and an environmental protection specialist with the Environmental Justice Program at the EPA's Denver office. Bill Snape III, an environmental lawyer, former vice president and chief counsel of Defenders of Wildlife, chair of the board of the Endangered Species Coalition and a member of the U.S. President's Trade and Environmental Policy Committee, will address "The Colorado River and Transboundary Disputes in an Age of Terror." Panel members include Liam Downey, sociology professor at the University of Colorado; Kathryn Mutz, research associate and coordinator for the Environmental Justice in Natural Resources project at the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado; and Sally L. Palmer, minister at St. Paul's United Church in Laramie, Wyo., and professor of religious studies and the environment at the University of Wyoming. Angela Banfill, student researcher with the State of the Rockies Project, will present the report card on environmental justice issues in the Rockies.
2:15 p.m., Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache La Poudre St., free

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Conference: 2006 State of the Rockies: New Approaches to Governing the Rockies — "Can Our Political Voices Be Heard?" is the evening's topic. Presenting "A New Vision for the Rockies" is Daniel Kemmis, director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana, and Sandy Buffet, the executive director of the Conservation Voters of New Mexico. Chris Jackson, student researcher with the State of the Rockies Project, will present the Western primary and regional charter report card.
5 p.m., Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache La Poudre St., free

Thursday, April 13, 2006
Conference: 2006 State of the Rockies: Rockies' History Comes Alive — Clay Jenkinson, the cultural commentator, author, and first-person impersonator, will appear in character as John Wesley Powell and offer contemporary comments on Powell's reactions to the challenges facing the Rocky Mountain region today. Jenkinson is the scholar behind the Thomas Jefferson of public radio's “The Thomas Jefferson Hour” and winner of the Charles Frankel Prize.
5 p.m., Armstrong Theatre, 14 E. Cache La Poudre St., free
All events are open to the public. For information, directions or disability accommodation, members of the public should call (719) 389-6607.

About the State of the Rockies Project
The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project is designed to provide a thoughtful, objective voice in regional issues by offering credible research on problems facing the Rocky Mountain West, and by convening citizens and experts to discuss the future of our region. Each year the project provides opportunities for collaborative student-faculty research partnerships, an annual State of the Rockies Report Card, and a companion State of the Rockies Conference. Taken together, these three arms of the Project offer the tools, forum, and accessibility needed for Colorado College to foster a strong sense of citizenship for its students, graduates and the broader regional community.   

About Colorado College
Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts and sciences college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its 1,960 students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week blocks. For more information, visit www.ColoradoCollege.edu <http://www.ColoradoCollege.edu>.