Our raison d’être:
Rocky Mountain Wild works to protect, connect, and restore wildlife and wild lands in the Southern Rocky Mountain region.
We envision a biologically healthy future for our region — one that includes a diversity of species and ecosystems, thriving populations of wildlife, and a sustainable coexistence between people and nature. Using research, community science, legal action (when necessary), and advanced geospatial analysis, we offer solutions for conserving our most at-risk animal and plant species and landscapes.
For the last few years, Rocky Mountain Wild has worked to expand our partnerships, to build capacity and a healthy community.
Protecting biodiversity is a big job, and we know we can’t do it alone. 2022 was no different. We built and expanded our community science projects, our partnerships protecting wildlife and wild lands, and our coalition work to do the work that needs doing.
Here’s what happened in 2022
- On February 11, we won two lawsuits challenging oil and gas leasing in critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse. Senior U.S. District Court Judge John L. Kane overturned the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s 2017 and 2018 decisions to lease public land in Southwest Colorado for oil and gas development on the grounds that development in the area could harm the Gunnison sage-grouse!
- On February 21, we released a study prepared in collaboration with Keep Routt Wild quantifying recreational disturbance to elk in Routt National Forest, east of Steamboat Springs. The study, Recreational Disturbance Modeling of Elk Habitat in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests, uses geospatial modeling to identify habitat loss and fragmentation of elk habitat in the study region from motorized and non-motorized recreation. The study techniques were used later in the year to analyze the impact of additional trails proposed to be built as part of the Mad Rabbit Trails Project.
- On March 3, World Wildlife Day, we launched a new project with our partner Southern Plains Land Trust, the Colorado Carbon Offset Partnership. The Partnership helps combat the climate crisis and secure a future for Colorado’s wildlife by providing a way for folks to donate to offset all of or part of their carbon footprint to protect pikas, bison, prairies, and people from climate change.
- On March 9, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission released a report that recommends expanded protections in state oil and gas rules to additional rare species including rare plants, pollinators and other rare terrestrial invertebrates. Alison served on the working groups that created this report and shared her expertise on the impacts of oil and gas development and on the sources and limitations of geographic data.
- On April 20, Alison hosted a session at the Colorado Partners in the Outdoors Conference, on Protecting Climate Resilient Lands. The session discussed the importance of identifying and protecting lands where biodiversity will continue to thrive as the climate changes. Danielle Murray from the Conservation Lands Foundation presented the Climate Atlas, a tool for assessing the biodiversity benefits of landscapes in the US. Along with hosting the session, Alison presented Rocky Mountain Wild’s collaboration with Wild Connections using geospatial analysis to identify climate-resilient lands in Central Colorado.
- On May 15-21, we celebrated Colorado Endangered Species Week. The week included webinars on Colorado imperiled, threatened, and endangered species including: It’s Almost Time to Rally to Save Grouse with Daly Edmunds, Audubon Rockies; Your New BFFs: Black-Footed Ferrets with Chamois Andersen, Kaitie Schneider, and Caitlin Cattelino, Defenders of Wildlife; A Peek on Pikas: How Climate Change is Impacting Distributions with Peter Billman, a Ph.D. student at the University of Connecticut and Megan; Take Flight from Chemical Pesticides with Hardy Kern, American Bird Conservancy and Joyce Kennedy, People & Pollinators Action Network; and Wild Solution: Wildlife Crossing Structures with Beth Pratt, National Wildlife Federation and Michelle Cowardin, Colorado Parks and Wildlife; as well as a live Evening Bat Conservation Hike with Aaron Sidder from Bat Conservation International.
- On June 9, we joined with our friends at WildEarth Guardians, Endangered Species Coalition, and Patagonia to host a Wolves of Colorado Speaker Panel. During the panel, we heard from Karin Vardaman from Working Circle and John Murtaugh from Defenders of Wildlife about our nation’s most misunderstood species and what Colorado Proposition 114 might mean for them.
- On June 13, in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Wild released a story map report showing how the practice of selling oil and gas leases on public lands with little or no potential for development wastes limited land management agency resources and threatens big game species, native and wild trout populations, and sage grouse habitat.
- June 16 – 28 the first federal oil and gas lease sales were held during the Biden administration. Rocky Mountain Wild analyzed the impacts of these sales, submitted comments and protests on the sales in Colorado and Wyoming, and supported organizations and individual engagement in all the sales. The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees these sales, initially proposed leasing over 730,000 acres but offered less than 130,000 acres for sale. Public engagement supported by our efforts protected over 600,000 acres from oil and gas development!
- On July 8, Alison presented virtually at the Society for Conservation GIS conference, discussing the geospatial analyses presented in the study, Recreational Disturbance Modeling of Elk Habitat in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests. This study uses geospatial modeling to identify habitat loss and fragmentation of elk habitat in the study region from motorized and non-motorized recreation.
- On August 16, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act. This broad legislation included significant reforms to the federal oil and gas leasing process and other provisions that support environmental justice and address the climate crisis. Rocky Mountain Wild’s work monitoring federal oil and gas lease sales and supporting a broad coalition of environmental groups played an important role in promoting this historic legislation.
- On August 18, we hosted the Belonging in the Outdoors Roundtable. Chris was joined by Amber Mohammad Castańeda from Coal Creek Canyon Volunteer Fire Department, Andrea Cota Avila from Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, Crystal Egli from Inclusive Journeys, and Robbin Meneses from Latino Outdoors (who you may recognize as our new Fundraising Director) to discuss why they do or do not feel invited, welcome, or safe recreating in Colorado’s public lands.
- On August 19, Alison was a featured speaker in the webinar: Climate Change and Colorado’s Forests. She, along with Ellen Montgomery from Environment Colorado and Matt Reed from High Country Conservation Advocates of Colorado explored the threats to Colorado’s forests and how people could help protect them.
- On August 19 and 21, we hosted two Bat Conservation Hikes. Kristen Lear and Aaron Sidder each led a trip and discussed the ecology of bats, where they live, what they do, and why they’re so important.
- On August 30, Summit County Safe Passages, the collaboration we’re part of that works to create safe crossings for wildlife in Summit County, launched their campaign for the new I-70 wildlife crossings on East Vail Pass!
- Over the summer, the Colorado Pika Project surveyed 145 sites. Over 240 volunteers conducted surveys. Volunteers contributed 2,287 hours to the project and hiked 2,026 miles!
- On September 16-17, we joined our partners at San Juan Citizens Alliance to host the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour Durango stop. The event featured two nights of award-winning adventure, environmental, exploration, and mountain culture films from around the world. This is the last time Rocky Mountain Wild will be hosting the event, but please follow our friends at San Juan Citizens Alliance who will be hosting it again next year.
- On September 28, we launched our new Pika Patrol mobile app. This new app will help the community and scientists alike to track observations and monitor populations of the climate-sensitive American pika. By making it easier for hikers, community members, and visitors to record pika observations, we can gather even more data on this charismatic mountain dweller!
- This fall, the I-70 East Vail Pass Wildlife Crossings Project received $750K from SB22-151, Safe Crossings for Colorado Wildlife and Motorists. SB22-151 established the Colorado wildlife safe passages fund within the state treasury and allocated $5 million to the fund in its first year. The $750K allotted to East Vail Pass will be combined with additional funding to begin the initial project design phase and stimulate additional funding for subsequent phases of design and construction. This is a really critical milestone in our effort to construct wildlife crossings on East Vail Pass.
- On October 20, the Village of Wolf Creek was again stopped by a Federal District Court Judge. Judge Christine Arguello found that the Forest Service violated Federal Law by granting an easement over Federal Lands to construct this massive development. This is a huge win for the wildlife and wild lands of Wolf Creek Pass.
- On October 20, we held a virtual showing of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival. On the days leading up to the event, we also held Wild & Scenic Days of Action sharing direct actions from Spirit of the Sun, Defenders of Wildlife, The Wilderness Society, and Wild Connections to shut down Suncor Energy, stop Senator Manchin’s dirty deal, rename Mount Evans as Mount Blue Sky, and protect Bureau of Land Management lands respectively.
- On October 22, the Pikas, Prairies, and the Climate Crisis: a photography exhibit about saving our wildlife at the Museum of Boulder had its opening reception. The exhibit is still open and will be available to check out through January 8.
- On October 31, during Bat Week, we officially launched the community science project, Colorado Bat Watch. Data collected through Colorado Bat Watch will help land managers and conservation organizations develop strategies and programs to protect bats and their habitats. Since the bats have all migrated or are hibernating, this is a soft launch. We are asking folks to share where they’ve seen bats flying or roosting and reporting those observations, and giving us feedback on their experience.
- On November 17, Chris presented their report for their Impact Project through Justice Outside’s Rising Leaders Fellowship. Their project, Affinity Group Community Science Trips, will be implemented in 2023 and 2024 to help increase inclusion and belonging in Rocky Mountain Wild’s community science programming by implementing for-us-by-us affinity group trips for BIPOC and LGBTIQA2+ community scientists. Stay tuned for how you can help this program in 2023!
We also transitioned to shared leadership!
In January, our Executive Director of 10 years, Tehri Parker, retired. As we met to discuss what parts of our internal culture we wanted to retain, we decided as a group, with Tehri’s encouragement, that maybe we should try shared leadership rather than the typical hierarchical structure most organizations used. We wanted to build equity by giving everyone in our small but mighty organization a voice and a vote.
We started this work by contracting with Beka Whitson of Whitson Strategies at the recommendation of our board who did the important work of delving into it with all the board and staff to see why or why not shared leadership would work with what we collectively believed and had in mind.
Next, we met with organizations that had already operationalized shared leadership to discuss structure, pitfalls, opportunities, and more. We are eternally grateful to Roshni Sampath from RVC; Paul Bindel and Sid Farber from Center for Community Wealth Building; and Natasha Winegar and Delia Allen-O’Brien from Change Elemental for taking the time to share their expertise with us.
The Leadership Team, which consisted of all full-time employees at Rocky Mountain Wild, along with Beka Whitson from Whitson Strategies, put together a proposal, budget, and timeline for the switch to shared leadership and presented it to the board of directors and conducted a few meetings to discuss and address their concerns. On May 10, the board unanimously approved the proposal.
With the switch approved, the next steps were to edit our Bylaws and Employee Manual and hire what we felt our team was lacking: a Fundraising Director. We started editing our Bylaws to reflect the change and decided to scrap the old Employee Manual and start over, writing one that reflected the focus on equity that we wanted to operationalize the organization with.
On July 20, Alison and Chris met with Alex who volunteered his time to look over our draft Employee Manual. A huge thank you to Colorado Nonprofit Association, Colorado Lawyers Committee, and Polsinelli for providing the Nonprofit Legal Audit Clinic. And a huge thank you to Alex who worked through the entire 29-page manual, bit by bit, answering our questions and ensuring Rocky Mountain Wild would be protected from any future bad actors.
At the same time, we began working with The HR Shop to help us hire our Fundraising Director. The HR Shop took us through a training, Unconscious Bias in Hiring, and provided us with resources we needed to ask equitable questions during the interview process.
Next Beka, Chris, and Matt were joined by Rocky Mountain Wild board member, Connor Bailey to form the hiring committee. Using an internal document created by the Leadership Team, Rocky Mountain Wild’s Guide to Equitable Hiring, and the resources from The HR Shop, they began the search for the new Fundraising Director.
And in the first week of October, we found our new member of the Leadership Team, Robbin Meneses!
The creation of an equity-based Employee Manual and how our shared leadership structure will work are ongoing projects that we will continue building in 2023.
Our team as we close out 2022
Alison Gallensky (she/her)
Conservation Geographer, Leadership Team
Chris Talbot-Heindl (they/them)
Communications Director, Leadership Team
Matt Sandler (he/him)
Legal Director, Leadership Team
Megan Mueller (she/her)
Conservation Biologist, Leadership Team
Paige Singer (she/her)
Conservation Ecologist, Leadership Team
Robbin Meneses (él/he/him)
Fundraising Director, Leadership Team
Sofia Corley (she/her)
Aaron Sidder (he/him)
Becky Long (she/her)
Board Vice President
Clarrisa Guy (she/her)
Connor Baily (he/him)
Connor Liu (he/him)
Gadalia O’Bryan (she/her/elle)
Kate Rentschlar (she/her)
Katrina Loewy (she/they)
Laura Hanssen (she/her)
Sonja Koblas (she/her)
Tess Richey (she/her)
October 2021-September 2022 (as reported December 15, 2022
Earned Revenue: $235,764
Other Income: $843
Total Income: $553,582
Employee Expenses: $347,922
Office Expense: $15,004
General Operations: $11,301
Program Expenses: $7,116
Professional Services: $3,625
Total Expenses: $384,968