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|Agenda||Coverage||Sponsors||Exhibitors/Advertisers||About Fort Collins|
Welcome Back to Colorado for #SEJ2019!
Welcome to Fort Collins and Northern Colorado, where the Rocky Mountains meet the Great Plains. Here in Colorado, water flows off both sides of the Continental Divide toward both the East and West Coasts, so, one way or another, our land-locked state affects everyone’s life across the U.S. We hope this year’s meeting fosters your own connections among lofty peaks and open views.
This conference represents a homecoming of sorts for SEJ. Our first annual conference, in 1991, occurred just down the road in Boulder. Now, as SEJ returns to Colorado, environmental matters that are front and center in this “purplish” state are becoming prominent presidential campaign issues leading into the 2020 election. Many presumptive candidates are actively addressing climate change, energy policy and biodiversity conservation. (Hopefully, some of them will be with us in “FoCo.”)
Here in Colorado, we’re addressing many of the challenges that communities throughout the country are experiencing. Since that first SEJ conference 28 years ago, the population of Colorado’s Front Range, stretching from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins, has exploded, adding millions of new residents. This growth challenges communities and resource managers who must balance demands for more development and for securing human and environmental health. This impossible juggling act is playing out in many ways, as you’ll see and learn. Some newly built neighborhoods butt right up against oil and gas wells amidst the state’s drilling frenzy; a half-dozen major dam and water-development projects are under consideration; the surging numbers of residents in the area are overtaxing open spaces — essentially loving nature to death; in the last decade megafires and floods have raged through communities, destroying lives and homes and costing millions of dollars.
Like everywhere, this level of economic growth and expanded resource extraction can often conflict with environmental health and sustainability goals.
In response to these challenges, Colorado is also forging ahead with innovation and collaborative solutions to both local and global problems. The state, communities, utilities and research institutions and universities — including our host, Colorado State University — are leading the way on renewable energy research and development, water conservation and management, and climate science and policy around the world. Federal research and management agencies — with offices in Fort Collins and along Colorado’s Front Range — are also leaders in advancing environmental science, research and policy. Further, many rapidly growing towns and cities are aggressively protecting natural areas to preserve wildlife habitat, working farmlands and open spaces.
All these dizzying developments make Fort Collins an ideal place for this year’s conference, and for examining the delicate relationships between people and the environment. This year’s conference focuses on climate change, energy development, water scarcity and politics, public lands management, agriculture and social justice (and injustice). These are themes and topics central to this region — and to the rest of the country and the world.
Conference workshops will offer attendees opportunities to learn reporting tools and skills for covering climate change, public lands and tribal affairs. Tours will take you from the Continental Divide to the plains, from forests and rivers to feedlots and former nuclear-weapons plants and into some of the most well-known environmental-research facilities in the world.
Did we forget to mention the craft beers and bicycle lanes and trails? And Rocky Mountain oysters? Also, remember that a “Rocky Mountain high” is not just the (legal) cannabis one, it’s also the mile-high headache you’ll get if you don’t drink plenty of water when traveling from sea level. So, remember to hydrate, so you can drink up and, well… whatever.
Welcome to Colorado!
Susan Moran, Independent Print Journalist;
Host of “How on Earth,” KGNU Radio (Denver/Boulder/Fort Collins)
Joshua Zaffos, High Country News Correspondent
About CSU-Fort Collins
Colorado State University was founded in 1870 as a land-grant institution and has a total enrollment of more than 33,000 students. One out of four students at CSU is first-generation. The university offers 74 undergraduate fields of study and graduate programs in business, engineering, education and the renowned College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. CSU is one of the nation’s top public research universities. Over the last 11 years, CSU’s research expenditures exceeded $300 million annually. The university’s scientists excel in fields including atmospheric sciences, agriculture and animal sciences, infectious diseases, natural resources, veterinary medicine and clean energy technologies. CSU is ranked #6 in the nation among environmentally responsible colleges, according to Princeton Review. The university was also #9 in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” rankings in 2019. CSU was the first university in the world to have its sustainability efforts rated as STARS Platinum by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). CSU ranked #8 and #3, for Curriculum and Research respectively, by AASHE in 2018.
Colorado State University’s campus is tucked against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in the heart of Fort Collins, with stunning views. Fort Collins is the fourth largest city in the state, an emerging music town, the largest producer of craft beer and about an hour’s drive from key tourist destinations like Denver, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. The campus also is within driving distance to some of the best ski resorts in the country. CSU buzzes with bikes; more than 23,600 bikes are registered to be on campus on any given day, and it is the only university in the state and one of only five in the nation recognized as a Platinum Bike Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. Hike to Horsetooth Rock, go whitewater rafting on the Cache la Poudre River, mountain bike at Lory State Park, explore the prairie alongside the only wild bison herd in Colorado, or just have a quiet picnic at the reservoir. With a robust public transportation system, bike routes on almost every road, and a uniquely walkable campus, cars are optional in Fort Collins.
Colorado State University acknowledges, with respect, that the land we are on today is the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations and peoples. This was also a site of trade, gathering, and healing for numerous other Native tribes. We recognize the Indigenous peoples as original stewards of this land and all the relatives within it. As these words of acknowledgment are spoken and heard, the ties Nations have to their traditional homelands are renewed and reaffirmed.
CSU is founded as a land grant institution, and we accept that our mission must encompass access to education and inclusion. And, significantly, that our founding came at a dire cost to Native Nations and peoples whose land this university was built upon. This acknowledgment is the education and inclusion we must practice in recognizing our institutional history, responsibility, and commitment.
— Land Acknowledgment at CSU, December 11, 2018