This year's Headwaters theme is "Beyond 'Both Sides': Unexpected Partnerships in the Headwaters." Students, faculty and community members will discuss relationships that transcend politics and personal positions and reach a shared solution in the face of common crisis. This shared space has been called a "radical center" by Arizona rancher William McDonald, who helpedcreate unlikely relationships between ranchers and environmentalists in his community.
"What makes this center 'radical' is that it reaches beyond compromising core values for political gain. The unexpected partnerships that form and are born from the radical center advance,rather than compromise, the diverse and vital interests that define the culture, environment and economy of a place," said Dr. John Hausdoerffer,conference organizer and professor and director of the WSCU Center for Environmental Studies.
Keynote speaker Courtney White, executive director of the Quivira Coalition, will expand on the concept of the radical center throughout his presentation, "Lessons from a 'Do' Tank: The Radical Center and the Next Wave of Conservation in the West," which will take place Friday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. in the University Center. A former archaeologist and Sierra Club activist, White left his former occupation in 1997 to co-found the Quivira Coalition, a nonprofit organization that seeks to foster partnerships between ranchers, conservationists, public land managers, scientists and others. His essays have been published in numerous magazines. His book Revolution on the Range: The Rise of the New Ranch in the American West was published in 2008 by Island Press.
Several panel discussions will take place during the conference. The first will focus on Gunnison sage grouse conservation efforts. The Gunnison Climate Working Group is working to reduce the impacts of climate change on sage grouse habitats, which requires collaboration between local, state and federal agencies, restoration experts, landowners, Western, volunteers and many others who are instrumental in maintaining and restoring sage grouse resiliency said Dr. Pat Magee, Western biology professor and panel organizer. Panelists include Mark Hatcher, rangeland management specialist for the USDA Forest Service; Betsy Neely, senior conservation planner for the Nature Conservancy's Colorado Program; Nate Seward, conservation biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife; and Rufus Wilderson, attorney and private landowner.
A second panel will address "Unlikely Partnerships: Beyond the Local." Moderated by Western Politics Professor Dr. Bill Niemi, this discussion will address the extent to which unexpected partnerships become more or less difficult on a larger scale, and will specifically focus on a Colorado statewide view. This discussion will feature Kathleen Curry, the first and only Independent State Representative in the Colorado General Assembly from 2004-2010; Molly Mugglestone, political and media relations consultant and owner of MDM Public Affairs Consulting, LLC; Dr. John Straayer, professor of Political Science at Colorado State University; and Aaron Abeyta, American Book Award-winning poet and activist.
Conference participants will also be able to choose from a Saturday Lunch Tour, where they will explore further the relationships formed in energy, ranch land, sage grouse and river conservation. Tours will be led by local organizations and Western professors. A sustainable sack lunch will be provided by Western's student Sustainability Coalition during the tours.
Early bird registration fees (received by Sept. 14) are: $30 for students and WSCU alumni; $50 for teachers and non-profits; $65 for individuals; and $120 for couples. Registration fees include all events and some meals. For more information or to register, visit www.western.edu/headwaters or call (970) 943-7011.
The Headwaters Conference is organized by the Headwaters Project and the Center for Environmental Studies at Western.