Government Affairs Experts
Our Policy Expertise by State
WRA works across seven states in the Interior West and learned early on that we achieve the best results when we focus on the venues where decisions are made — at state legislatures, within state agencies and commissions, and working directly with utilities, local governments, and municipalities.
We advocate in front of state utility commissions, shape policy with state legislators, and educate local decision makers on how to advance conservation. By using science and research, WRA helps state and local governments shape and assess laws and rules that drive change and create accountability.
Indigenous Tribes in the Interior West
WRA recognizes the rights and sovereignty of the first peoples of the Interior West. We work to build relationships with Indigenous communities to understand their climate needs and challenges and work to elevate Indigenous voices in state forums across the Interior West. The following map showcases the Indigenous tribes and federally recognized territories across the Interior West. The yellow represents Indigenous territories while the blues highlight the ancestorial homelands of Indigenous tribes. Search your address in the top right search bar to see what traditional homelands you reside on. We encourage all Western residents to better understand the history and current context of First Nation lands that they live within.
As a regional organization staffed by experts in a broad range of fields with a distinctive niche and expertise developing state-level policy solutions — and with robust networks and a solid reputation among partners across the West for well-researched and innovative policy work – WRA is a valuable resource for decision makers.
We bring ideas, hard-earned lessons, and models from across the West to bear on conservation challenges and climate impacts. The states where we work often share habitat types, are home to the same wildlife species, and face similar challenges such as air pollution and water scarcity. Our federal courts are in the same circuits and our federal agencies in the same regions. Our states work together, including to protect migration corridors that cross state boundaries. And, as a general rule, states in our region are influenced by the actions and policies of their neighbors, which spreads the impact of our work. However, WRA understands the uniqueness of each state’s history and culture and our on-the-ground staff work in close collaboration with local partners to adapt solutions to individual states.
About the Issues
WRA is tackling the largest sources of carbon pollution, improving air quality for people and nature, protecting and restoring our rivers and water supply, and connecting the West’s unparalleled landscapes. Learn more about these issues in each of our states and across the region.
The West is losing one football-field worth of natural lands to development every 2.5 minutes, and Colorado alone has identified over 150 species in decline that, without action, will be threatened with extinction. Additionally, much of our remaining natural areas are in poor ecological health due to historic over-grazing and fire suppression, which, among other problems, is causing unnatural, catastrophic wildfires that further contribute to climate change, as well as unnatural flooding that puts lives at risk.
To preserve high priority habitats for biodiversity, WRA’s work helps communities by preventing risky new developments in areas of high wildfire and flooding risk. Additionally, access to outdoor opportunities has been privatized for millions of acres of public lands, creating an inequitable system where only the most wealthy or privileged people are able to access these public lands for camping, fishing, hiking, and hunting opportunities. WRA is working to improve both the equity of access to public lands as well as guarantee more inclusive governance of these spaces.
WRA envisions that at least half of Western lands in each major ecoregion, including wildlife migration corridors, are legally protected from development to conserve biodiversity in the face of rapid habitat loss and climate change. Protected lands also support equitable, sustainable access to outdoor opportunities; vibrant communities with robust local outdoor economies; cultural resources, sacred sites, and living ties to the land; and intact natural ecological processes that sequester carbon and help meet climate goals, and capture runoff and help meet healthy river goals.
Water in the West is inherently complicated. A complex web of laws, compacts, and water rights dictate how and when people and entities are allowed to use water, making water and aquatic habitat conservation especially difficult — and different from — protecting land habitat.
WRA’s Healthy Rivers team uses state and local policies and on-the-ground actions to promote river health and flows, water efficiency, water recycling, and urban/agricultural cooperation. WRA as a 1,000-mile goal for permanent protection of fish and wildlife habitat on priority rivers. We have also been critical to advancing policies throughout the region that have protected vulnerable waterways, including many miles on the Green River in Utah and the Colorado, Dolores, and Gunnison rivers in Colorado. This gives us a strategic advantage to bring expertise, ideas, and lessons learned from elsewhere in the Interior West to the specific challenges facing our region.
Using our research, analyses, and strategic outreach to promote wiser water management and update water policies and laws, WRA advances water conservation and other solutions so wildlife — and the aquatic and riparian habitats they depend on — can thrive in balance with communities, recreation, and farms.
WRA’s clean energy policy experts work with states, power utilities, and regulators to ensure a clean energy transition benefits customers, is good for the environment, and is reliable. Whether it’s utility resource planning, facilitating coal plant retirement, investing in grid modernization, advocating for regional energy markets, increasing energy efficiency, or pushing for rate designs that encourage energy conservation, WRA is there sweating the details. Because energy policy must balance economic, environmental, and other societal factors, we work with low-income advocates, environmental justice organizations and others to develop equitable policies that result in outcomes that ensure our solutions don’t create disproportionate effects on these communities.
We use public policy to align the financial interests of electricity producers and consumers with decarbonizing electricity production and electrifying other economic activities in a way that advances equity and leads to a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. We decrease the electric industry’s contribution to climate change by positioning the industry to provide clean, zero-carbon energy to meet the needs of growing populations. Because a decarbonized electricity grid can also provide zero-carbon energy to other sectors of the economy, WRA is simultaneously working to expand electrification of end uses traditionally powered by fossil fuels, such as transportation and home heating.