Field Notes

Winter 2024

Our 2024 Priorities

Our 2024 priorities are ambitious and challenging, but they are also full of hope. They represent our commitment to a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable West. 


Many people start the new year with resolutions – a personal challenge, ambitious goal, or hopeful vision for the year ahead. At WRA, our resolutions take the form of our 2024 priorities. They are ambitious and challenging, but they are also full of hope. They represent our collective commitment to forging a path toward a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable future for the West. 

Organizational Priorities: Guiding the Way to a Sustainable West 

The Future of the Colorado River 

At the forefront of WRA’s agenda is the Colorado River, a lifeline for countless ecosystems and wildlife habitats, the seven basin states, 30 federally recognized Tribes, and Mexico. Climate change and prolonged drought have put stress on the river and the communities and wildlife that depend on it. We need a fresh approach that uses data-backed solutions for river governance.  

In 2023, the Department of the Interior kicked off the process for revising the guidelines for how Colorado River water is allocated. WRA’s team of experts is working on policies for responsible river management that promote resilience to climate change, are inclusive of all our communities, and create a collaborative, sustainable future for the Colorado River.  

Arizona’s Clean Energy Transition 

In the challenging political and regulatory landscape of Arizona, we are focused on getting the state’s three largest utility companies on track with the greenhouse gas emissions targets needed to fight climate change. The goal is to align Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, and Tucson Electric Power with more ambitious decarbonization goals that mirror climate science and create lasting impacts for Arizonan’s health and livelihoods.  

The urgency of the climate crisis has spurred our team into action. We must reduce greenhouse gas emissions at least 80% by 2030 to avert the worst impacts, and WRA sees 2024 as a window of opportunity to effect change. 

Conserve and Protect Colorado 

Rapid development and habitat loss are threatening Colorado’s iconic landscapes and wildlife. Nearly one-third of Colorado’s lands have already been altered by human development – placing Colorado at the highest percentage of natural areas already lost to development among Western states. The seriousness of this threat has prompted WRA to advocate for a recurring source of conservation funding for the state.  

We are exploring funding options to secure at least $50 million annually to fund the protection of Colorado’s remaining lands. This will also put us on our ultimate path to protecting 30% of lands by 2030 and 50% by 2050. 

But WRA’s commitment to the region goes beyond these three organizational priorities. In each state, legislative priorities have been outlined to fight climate change and its impacts. 

Legislative Priorities: Turning Vision into Action 

When it comes to legislative efforts, WRA focuses on initiatives that promise significant environmental impact, demand timely intervention, and hold a viable chance of success in the ever-evolving legislative landscape. 


In Colorado, our work to create a reliable revenue stream for necessary investments in land and wildlife conservation described above will also be a priority at the legislature this year with a proposed bill to support conservation funding. Beyond that, our team is leading efforts on a renewable energy siting bill that will help Colorado expand the deployment of utility-scale clean energy projects (like wind and solar) – all while ensuring their build-out does not exacerbate habitat loss or place development on important natural and working lands. A smart energy siting policy means Colorado can meet its climate and renewable energy goals and protect wildlife conservation and community values. 

WRA is also advocating for increased funding for the Turf Replacement Program, a critical step in Colorado’s water conservation efforts. WRA helped establish the program through legislation passed in 2022, creating a fund for replacing turf (water intensive grass) with water-wise landscaping and established a statewide program for Coloradans who don’t have access to local incentives. We want to secure an additional $3 million to amplify the impact of this program and reach communities statewide. 

New Mexico

WRA’s focus in New Mexico centers on securing additional funding for the Land of Enchantment Legacy Fund. Our team played a critical role in establishing this fund during the 2023 legislative session to support existing state programs that prioritize land and water conservation. This year, we are advocating for $300 million to ensure the Legacy Fund reaches its full potential to produce enough annual returns to be self-sustaining, weather economic downturns, access hundreds of millions of federal matching dollars, and reach all 33 counties and Tribal communities. This will help ensure New Mexico communities have stable funding to protect from wildfire, flood and drought, safeguard water supplies, support rural and agricultural communities, and grow its outdoor recreation economy.   

Our team is also actively involved in advancing an electric vehicle tax credit bill, which will help ensure all New Mexicans can access electric vehicles and promote the transition to cleaner transportation alternatives.  


In Utah, WRA is championing incentives for zero-emission medium and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicles. MHD trucks make up a smaller portion of the total vehicle fleet, but these vehicles emit the most carbon dioxide and ozone forming emissions per vehicle. By encouraging vehicle electrification, we can significantly improve local air quality and reduce the impacts of climate change. Incentive programs are a key component to catalyzing this burgeoning market. 

With each new year comes fresh perspective and renewed energy to shaping a future where the West thrives in harmony with its environment. The road ahead is challenging, but with our priorities set, we are confident that the future is bright. 

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Western Resource Advocates