In 2021, I had the rare opportunity and time to hike 486 miles of the Colorado Trail. Starting just south of Denver, I wove through the mountains of the Front Range, across the Sawatch and the majestic Collegiate Peaks, rambling over the Cochetopa Hills into the glorious San Juan Mountains, and then descended into Durango.
For 32 days I lived outside, slept on the ground, and put one foot in front of the other. I vividly remember my 25th day in the Weminuche Wilderness, having already spent two days above timberline. On the last high ridge, a storm moved in, and I could see rain falling in the distance. The light was perfect, shining down on vertical walls carved out of lava that flowed some 20 million years ago. There are so many spectacular places of beauty and solitude in the West.
While extraordinary, the journey was also tedious and tough, if truth be told. Day after day, mile after mile, step after step, blister after blister, I and others I met along the trail carried on, even when it felt impossible. Progress is like that. Something worth achieving takes persistent action, often in the face of significant obstacles.
Our work at WRA requires the same persistence. Climate change affects everything we do. We all know the cycle. Each year increasing temperatures, drought, wildfires, air pollution, and extreme weather create devastating consequences for people around the world. The scale of the crisis can make it easy to lose hope and overlook our ability to effect change.
We’re far from comprehensively and permanently addressing the threat that a changing climate and biodiversity loss pose to our communities across the West. We still have a lot of hard work to do. But we do this work year after year, taking steps forward each time, because we know that by leveraging state-level action, we can build a more sustainable future for generations to come.
Robust public policies are the building blocks of change. They allow us to act today while also building a better future, spurring innovation, creating solutions, advancing equity, and making measurable change. I am incredibly proud to share our successes in this report — they demonstrate how our unique skill of driving state action is effectively creating the change we need at the scale and pace necessary to solve the climate crisis.
You’ll see how:
- We use thorough research to develop sound policy and convince skeptical decision makers to act.
- We highlight how listening and engaging with partners leads to innovative programs for unique state problems.
- We share ways that advocacy with utilities can create outsized investments in electrification and rewrite the rules of energy planning.
- We’ll also show how careful implementation and measurement through rulemaking can change the outcomes for both public health and the economy for the better.
But none of this work and progress would be possible without caring supporters like you. Your generosity and willingness to meet the scale of the crisis we face with tangible action is a constant source of inspiration and motivation. Together we can go farther than we can as individuals to solve the West’s toughest challenges.
The next five years will determine our future, and we will leverage every tool we have to make them count. WRA is effectively addressing complex conservation issues and creating regional impact by using our unique strength in driving state action — developing science-based policies, informed by communities and stakeholders, and advocating for and implementing them to achieve measurable results.
We’re not giving up, and we’re not going to let our leaders give up, either. While the challenges ahead seem daunting, I know that through perseverance and hard work, we are driving policies that are the building blocks to a better West.