Field Notes

Winter 2023

Flatirons, Boulder, Colorado

Our Love Letters to the West

Little love letters to the West from members of WRA’s community


On 8/8/22, I wrote a love letter to water, but I didn’t know it at the time. Returning now to those words, it’s clear that my
companionship with and necessity for water are reflections of my parents’ love. I will always fear an end to its source: both water and love. An excerpt from the poem:

Water doesn’t call or speak to me.

It doesn’t acknowledge me when I arrive
but it knows my feet will bring me there
because they always do.

Like my father helping my mother unload the groceries when she
comes home.

A routine occurrence,

but there’s magic.

Haley Fauntleroy | San Francisco, CA

Mt Bierstadt, July 2020
Mt. Bierstadt, July 2020


from mountaintops high
rivers imitate our veins
breathless, heartful world

Clare Valentine | Colorado Resident

There really is nothing like standing at the top of a mountain and looking out as far as you can see. Endless pine forests covering jagged snowcapped peaks, shimmering patches of aspens glistening in the sun, tucked-away meadows spotted with wildflowers. No matter how many miles of trails hiked or peaks summited, the vastness of the West always astonishes me. The opportunity to get lost in nature for an hour, a day, or even a week and still feel like there is so much more to experience is why I fell in love with the West. My endless adventure!

Seve Desoto | Colorado Resident
Western Lands Energy Siting Policy Analyst | WRA

Seve and his buddy hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer.
Seve and his buddy hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park this summer.
WRA Board Secretary Carla Hamre Donelson and her father on the summit of Elk Mountain on his 90th birthday.
WRA Board Secretary Carla Hamre Donelson and her father on the summit of Elk Mountain on his 90th birthday.

The Lasting Impact of Gratitude

“Take a breath offered by friendly winds.
… Give it back with gratitude.”

This is one of my favorite lines from Joy Harjo, who served as the United States Poet Laureate and was the first Native American in this role. Her point is that it’s not enough to merely say thank you. We have to share what we’ve been given; we have to pass it on. What we breathe in, we breathe out – for the next person, and the next generation, to breathe in and breathe out. My father, who’s always been an avid outdoorsperson, recognized all the wisdom and guidance he’d gained from the natural world. As part of his expression of gratitude for all he’d received from nature, he is passing it along to his children.

Carla Hamre Donelson | WRA Board Secretary 

Life Elevated

The air here is scarce. My skin cracks and the warm melanin of my skin looks pale from the lack of lotion that I must reapply every 2 hours. My lungs crave the moisture that proximity to the Pacific Ocean brings that has been replaced with the work it takes to simply walk at this elevation. And yet, I turn to the west and see the magnificence of the Flatirons, my eyes span across to the east to the great plains that hold the world’s most underrated biodiversity. Turns out Colorado has it all, save for air.

Alma “Rosie” Sanchez | Colorado Resident

Flatirons, Boulder, Colorado

When snow blankets the West, there’s no place I’d rather be. Jagged peaks smoothed over in white–an ideal setting for human powered movement through the wild landscape. Senses are both heightened and calmed. To be here is to escape, to process, to breathe, to appreciate… to tune in.

Jamie Starr | WRA Board Member
Park City, Utah

The Jemez volcano in northern New Mexico belched out a pink plateau of volcanic ash that fingers over the Rio Grande as the river sneaks away from Colorado’s San Juan Mountains for warmer country to the south. I can stand on the ash plateau and imagine millions of years of rocky upheaval that created this graceful sweep of valleys, snowy peaks, and human stories layered before me. Watch those ducks far below arrowing over river rapids. See distant Colorado peaks peeking over the north horizon. Feel the decades of adventures here, my chosen enchanted corner of my beloved West.

Tom Ribe | Santa Fe, New Mexico

Caroline G | Fourth Grader
Denver, Colorado

I Love the West 

My first visit to the west was due to my assignment to Lowry Air Base in Colorado. I arrived on January 6, 1965. The air was crisp and cool. The sky was blue. The snow-capped mountains were visible from the gate. During my training, I visited Garden of the Gods, Lookout Mountain, Seven Falls and Royal Gorge, attended the Stock Show, and tent-camped in the snow near Black Hawk. I loved the scenery, fresh air and friendly people. After my service and a BFA in photography, I returned to live in Colorado. Let’s keep our air and water clean!

Paul Skizinski, Vice President
Englewood Historic Preservation Society
U S Navy, Vietnam Veteran

Why do I Love the West? Well first of all because the West IS the Best!! Of course the real reason is the FREEDOM! Especially here in Fabulous Las Vegas! Also the horizon is Unlimited. I am slightly claustrophobic. Out here we don’t have to be constantly paranoid of being closed in. Stand on your car in the biggest city in the West and you can see sunsets unequaled most anywhere else.

James Katzen | Las Vegas, Nevada  

I Love the West Heart

We moved to Arizona for health reasons. Our initial visit was at the invitation of friends for a one week stay. After three days my wife noticed a marked improvement in her pain level from arthritis. We now live in Bullhead City and have driven through the surrounding mountains many, many times, and every time, we say, “This is why we moved here!” The beauty of the mountains around us never gets old. And to top it off, almost every day I get a dramatic photo op like in the attached picture, taken just days ago – one of hundreds of dramatic photos like this that I have taken.

Dean Wenrich, | Bullhead City, Arizona

Digital Love Letter from 12 year old Priya Kapoor

No matter where I am living, the West will always be my home.

It’s the land that my family fought to protect. My uncle, Albert Smith, served as a Navajo code talker during World War II. When asked why he fought, he said: “I stand up for Mother Earth. She stands for my freedom. I can play dance, sing, and stand for life. I went to war because a foreign country wanted to take my Mother Earth, my freedom.”

Today, Mother Earth remains under attack. Climate change is threatening all aspects of our environment, our future, our freedom. Will you stand up with me?

Heather Tanana | WRA Board Member
Salt Lake City, Utah

Why do I love Colorado? The trees, the rivers, and the rocks. The rock formations put down and raised up over millions of years. You can see them, layers upon layers, tilted and swirled. And the water running through, carving and eroding until we have fascinating canyons. And high on the side of a canyon a lone tree growing out of the rocks – no sustenance to be seen. And then, around a curve, forest – spruce, pine, juniper, and aspens up high, and cottonwoods down by the water. And then, home, a doe walks through my yard.

Katherine Delanoy | Colorado Resident

Two Love Birds by Dylan S., First Grade | Arizona
Two Love Birds by Dylan S., First Grade | Arizona

Utah is a unique place on this Earth, sculpted by glaciers, polished by wind, gouged by rivers and buried by sediment from ancient lakes. Hydrology and geology tell stories wherever I go, stories that remind me how the Earth here and everywhere is very much alive. Great watersheds like the Colorado River and the Great Salt Lake are like intricate circulatory systems that spread energy and life throughout the region. I love the energy of this amazing place where I need only to put my hands in a flowing river to remember how we and the Earth are bound together.

Nick Schou | Utah Government Affairs Manager

Soryn T. | Salt Lake City, Utah

We’d love to hear your story and what makes the West so special to you.

What is your favorite part about our region that you love and want to fight to protect from climate change? Share your story (along with a photo if you want) today! 

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