Taylor Hawes has joined The Nature Conservancy’s Rocky Mountain Conservation Region staff as director of the Colorado River Program. A lawyer specializing in water and environmental issues, Hawes will lead the Colorado River Program and will be based in the Conservancy’s offices in Boulder, Colorado.
“Taylor has been involved in a wide range of Colorado River issues including land use planning, water project assessment and planning, endangered species, water-related legislation and education about water issues,” said Charles Bedford, director of the Colorado Chapter. “The Conservancy is very pleased to have her on our team.”
“This is an amazing opportunity to develop a basinwide vision and long-term strategies for the Colorado River,” Hawes said. “I’m looking forward to building on the work the Conservancy has already done in the Colorado River basin.”
Hawes served as Co-Director of Northwest Colorado Council of Governments’ Water Quality and Quantity Committee (QQ) from 1997-2004, advocating for six headwater counties of Colorado on water matters. She also managed the Upper Colorado River Project (UPCO), a six-year study and solutions-oriented project in Summit and Grand counties to address impacts associated with water diversions to the Front Range from the Western Slope. She served as a consultant to various towns and counties on land use and water-related issues from 1998 to 2004, and as town attorney for Montezuma in Summit County, Colorado.
Since 2005, Hawes served as associate counsel to the Colorado River Water Conservation District in Glenwood Springs. Her responsibilities included working on water quality issues, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Processes in the Colorado and Yampa Rivers, environmental permitting, and water rights litigation.
Hawes serves on the Boards of the Colorado Foundation for Water Education, the Colorado Water Trust and the Colorado Institute for Leadership Training.
She received her B.A. in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1991 and her Juris Doctorate degree from the Vermont Law School in 1997.
The Colorado River is a key source of water for the West. In addition to supporting agriculture and communities in western Colorado, this river is also a key source of water for Denver, the growing Front Range and the entire southwest United States. The river supports four endangered native fish—the Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, bonytail chub and razorback sucker.
For more than 10 years, the Conservancy has been working with federal agencies, upper-basin states, water users and other partners to recover these endangered fish while providing for current and future water needs of the community. Together, the Conservancy and its partners are seeking ways to restore river flows, reconnect floodplains and provide fish passage without restricting the use of water for these communities.
“We certainly have our work cut out for us as the basin struggles with many competing uses such as domestic use, hydropower, recreation, agriculture, and the environment,” Hawes said. “If the Colorado River is going to be a sustainable river, we have to find a way to balance environmental needs and human needs. Ultimately, though, I think the lessons we learn here can be applied to many other ‘working’ rivers around the world.”
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.