Colorado State University Center for Collaborative Conservation Fellows Named

This month, Colorado State University’s Center for Collaborative Conservation (CCC) and the Warner College of Natural Resources awarded 16 fellowships to form the second annual cohort of Center for Collaborative Conservation fellows. These fellows include nine graduate students, three faculty members and four conservation practitioners. Additionally, several undergraduate CCC interns will be selected to work with the new CCC fellows.

The purpose of the CCC Fellows Program is to strengthen engagement among students, faculty, conservation practitioners and other stakeholders by promoting collaborative research, education and action on critical issues concerning conservation and livelihoods on landscapes around the globe. The CCC fellows are part of the new Collaborative Conservation Learning Network where principles and practice of collaborative conservation are developed, exchanged, tested and adapted.

The second cohort of CCC fellows will be working in 10 countries, including Mongolia, Kenya, Guinea Bissau, Peru, Costa Rica, Panama, Nepal, Ethiopia, Tanzania and the United States. Of the seven fellows who will be working in the United States, five will be working in communities across Colorado from the Front Range to the Western Slope, one will be working with a rancher’s collaborative in Montana, and another with members of more than 30 tribal nations across the nation. The fellows also represent six departments and two colleges at CSU, and three non-governmental organizations doing conservation work in Colorado.

They are working on problems as diverse as the sharing of scarce water resources among agricultural and urban communities in Colorado, to conservation of the endangered Mongolian wild ass, to engagement of transboundary stakeholders in ecosystem services projects in Costa Rica and Panama. In Colorado, five fellows are working on better understanding how collaboratives work and how they can work effectively through using both market and non-market-based incentives for conservation.


Dieter Erdmann
Erdmann is the director of Conservation Operations for Colorado Open Lands, a statewide non-profit land trust. He has more than a decade of experience in private land conservation and project fundraising. For Erdmann’s fellowship, he is working to leverage private land conservation incentives with municipal investments to promote agricultural water sharing along the Lower South Platte River in Colorado to sustain agricultural communities while meeting the growing water demands of urban areas. The ideal outcome of this project will be an effective and inclusive partnership and a roadmap to the implementation of an agricultural-municipal water sharing/agricultural land conservation project.

Art Goodtimes
Goodtimes is chair of the San Miguel County, Colo. Board of Commissioners. The goal of his fellowship is to craft a county-run pilot project that will offer private ranches in the San Miguel River watershed a calculated revenue offset for ecosystem services that they are either currently providing or could provide in the future. This involves choosing an appropriate ecosystem service to target for a payments program, followed by a process of gathering partners, securing payment funds, structuring the program itself (application, review, contracts, etc.), crafting a monitoring component, finding a sustainable model so the program can continue into the future and writing up a report.

Hill Grimmett
Grimmett is the founder and director of the Northern Colorado Food Incubator and co-director of Be Local Northern Colorado. During this fellowship, Grimmett will develop a marketing action plan for local “conservation beef.” In collaboration with a small number of local producers of grass-fed beef, he will explore the opportunities for developing a branded line of beef products, to be sold at the proposed Fort Collins Community Marketplace and elsewhere. Five areas of concern for this project are: consumers and the impact of their values on purchasing decisions; producers and their practices of husbandry and land stewardship; conservation practices that can be used by producers, valued by consumers and validated by research; the size and nature of the market in northern Colorado; and infrastructure issues such as regional processing capacity and cold storage requirements. In addition to his marketing action plan, Grimmett will produce written plan documents for CCC’s Collaborative Conservation Learning Network.

Lee Scharf
Scharf is the owner of a Fort Collins business, Mesa LLC, Mediated Environmentally Sustainable Action. Her fellowship will identify prospective tribal professionals interested in using or leading collaborative efforts to address conservation issues on tribal lands. Identification of interested tribal professionals will be done by in-person visits to tribal lands and to organizations engaged in tribal work, as well as by teleconference. A select group of tribal professionals will be asked to design a training to develop their practice expertise from tribal nation to tribal nation and with multiple stakeholders, through an online dialogue created by a CSU Native American student. Scharf will contribute an article or report for the Collaborative Conservation Learning Network that describes the process and outcomes of her project.


Brett Bruyere
Bruyere is an assistant professor in CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. His fellowship will include a combination of research and outreach/education in environmental science and communication in the Samburu region of Kenya. Specifically, he will collaborate with organizations engaged in similar work in other parts of Kenya to share best practices and lessons learned; address a new audience not fully investigated during prior work; include the involvement of faculty and students from Kenya Methodist University in conducting this research and outreach; and develop viable educational formats and activities to engage local youth and their communities in conservation.

Tony Cheng
Cheng is an associate professor in CSU’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed. The purpose of this fellowship is to develop a systems analysis framework in collaboration with practitioners to examine and improve the interaction between localized collaborative forest stewardship conservation on U.S. public lands and multi-level organizational and policy systems. The impetus for this project comes from individuals working in collaborative forest stewardship projects across the West who express frustration for not being able to achieve the durable changes they desire.

Maria Fernandez-Gimenez
Fernandez-Gimenez is an associate professor in CSU’s Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship. She seeks to identify the management practices and institutions that sustain ecological and livelihood systems in rangeland landscapes. Her research focuses on understanding the social and ecological outcomes of community-based resource management institutions, factors associated with their success and failure, and the roles that science, local knowledge, and monitoring play in these efforts. Her fellowship builds on existing collaboration with Mongolian research organizations and non-governmental organizations to build the capacity of Mongolian scientists and practitioners for applied interdisciplinary participatory research and launches a new collaboration with the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology in Spain and villagers in four Pyrenean valleys, to study the effects of socio-economic change on pastoral communities and management institutions.


R. Patrick Bixler
Bixler is a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at CSU and is working with Pete Taylor. Through a fellowship partnership with the Blackfoot Challenge, a landowner-led collaborative initiative in Montana, Bixler will collaboratively explore the problem of transferability and scaling up of the Blackfoot Challenge experience. Specifically, he will ask: How does a community-based stewardship organization balance the desire to be place-based with the responsibilities of sharing the collaborative conservation message? He plans to develop both reports and outreach materials regarding the transferring process, and scholarly papers for journal publication together with his collaborators in the Blackfoot Challenge.

Gabriela Bucini
Bucini is a doctoral student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State, working with Niall Hanan. She works on savanna woody vegetation dynamics across regional to continental scales in Africa using remote sensing to map woody cover and statistical models to explore relationships with biotic and abiotic factors. During her CCC fellowship, Bucini will transfer her knowledge in remote-sensing and GIS to local communities in Guinea Bissau, acquire the collaborative conservation skills necessary to support the use of spatial data in the dialogue on conservation and livelihood issues, and build links with Portuguese research scientists and conservation practitioners in Guinea Bissau that will develop into actions to conserve a national park in harmony with the livelihood needs of local inhabitants. This project will provide IBAP and the Park Guard and Guides with a climate station and a complete set of field equipment tested and ready-to-use in the field, and will produce an article on merging field and remote-sensing measurements to create geo-spatial information that merges geographical and indigenous knowledge about the ecosystem.

Angie Fuhrmann
Fuhrmann is a master’s student in the International Development Studies program in the Department of Anthropology at CSU. She will work with Kathy Pickering-Sherman and Village Earth to develop a collaborative capacity-building workshop for the Shipibo indigenous people of the central Peruvian Amazon. The goal of this workshop is to decrease illegal deforestation of the region and mitigate conflicts with colonists. The workshop will also enable the native population to demarcate their boundaries, while providing a platform for discussion and clarification of land titling procedures and regulations by local, national, and international organizations and government agencies.

Heidi Huber-Stearns
Huber-Stearns is a master’s student in CSU’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources and she is working with Stu Cottrell and Josh Goldstein. Her fellowship will build on CCC Fellow Esther Duke’s collaborative research project in a transboundary area between Costa Rica and Panama (adjacent to Amistad Biosphere Binational World Heritage Site / La Amistad International Park). She will interview people involved in existing successful payments for ecosystem services (PES) projects to gain a better understanding of how to engage buyers, and work collaboratively with government, non-governmental organizations and other partners in the area to identify funding possibilities for implementing a PES program that may fund protected area and buffer zone management. Her project will generate a working paper describing the collaborative approach utilized, a report of project results for community partners and the formation of a PES practitioner network.

Kathie Mattor
Mattor is a doctoral student in CSU’s Department of Forest, Range and Watershed Stewardship and is working with Tony Cheng. Her doctorate research focuses on understanding how community-based forestry efforts influence the social and economic well-being of the communities they work in. During her CCC fellowship, she will conduct interviews and focus groups to identify social and economic indicators of well-being, as well as to develop a better understanding of how the community-based forestry efforts are able to improve social and economic conditions within their communities. The outcome of the fellowship will include an additional dissertation chapter on the methods and considerations for monitoring the social and economic impacts of community-based forestry efforts and a synthesis report for the community-based forestry organizations involved and the broader community-based forestry community.

Gregory Pierce
Pierce is a master’s student in the International Development Studies program in the Department of Anthropology at CSU, working with Jeff Snodgrass. His fellowship will explore how ethnically Tibetan agro-pastoralists in the Tarap Valley of Dolpo, Nepal cognitively model the interconnections between their subsistence livelihoods and the hydrological regimes of the glaciers in the Kanjiroba Range and how those models are being adapted to changes resulting from increased warming in the Himalayas. The feasibility of creating a conservation resource center will also be studied. Products of this fellowship will include an in-country conference presentation of initial results from the field and an outreach document that translates those results into usable science for community members, policymakers and conservation planners.

Jason Ransom
Ransom is a doctoral student in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology at Colorado State, working with Tom Hobbs. He is also a Student Career Experience Program employee of the U.S. Geological Survey and is studying ungulate ecology and investigating emergent techniques in population estimation. Through his fellowship, Ransom will develop a novel ground-based population estimation method that integrates local communities into conservation initiatives for vulnerable, threatened and endangered ungulates in Mongolia. He will help build a sustainable network of Mongolian pastoralists who can contribute to population estimates and long-term monitoring of khulan in the Great Gobi B Strictly Protected Area, and will produce a refereed journal article on the developed method, as well as an estimate of the Gobi khulan population that is absent in the local and global conservation plans for this species.

Carl Reeder
Reeder is a Peace Corps Masters International student studying geographic information systems (GIS) and forest science in the Department of Forest, Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship at CSU, under the direction of Melinda Laituri. Through his fellowship, he will develop and distribute a GIS training website containing tutorials engineered to improve the conservation capabilities of universities and land management institutions in Ethiopia. The fellowship work will be the foundation for his Peace Corps service and establish a model for future Peace Corps activities in Ethiopia.

Faith Sternlieb
Sternlieb is a doctoral student in CSU’s Department of Geosciences and is working with Melinda Laituri. Her fellowship will explain how indicators can inform contradicting water management policies at different scales to encourage collaborative governance in a trans-boundary watershed of Kenya and Tanzania. During her fellowship, she will travel to Kenya and Tanzania, meet stakeholders, identify study communities and sites, consolidate relationships with partners, and develop a work plan for her doctorate.