Atlas of Collaborative Conservation in Colorado

We first began the research for the Collaborative Conservation Atlas project back in 2013 with the goal of identifying and systematically describing collaborative initiatives across the state to gain a better understanding of ‘who is doing what, where?’ Since then, we have identified 140+ long-term collaborative and multi-stakeholder initiatives working across the state on many different kinds and combinations of natural resource and environmental issues. While each group is unique, the initiatives in our study share the following characteristics:

  • they include a range (3+) of stakeholders representing the diverse perspectives of organizations, interest groups, and/or individuals with a stake in the outcome that participate on a regular basis or have recognizable responsibilities within the initiative.
  • the core participants pool resources and assets to achieve shared objectives
  • they formed to achieve one or more conservation or natural resource-related goals
  • participants engage in a sustained process of interaction or consensus building at some point(s) during the group’s history lasting at least two years

Atlas of Collaborative Conservation in Colorado



Our research and findings on how and why collaboratives get started, and what organizational models they adopt to achieve their shared objectives are described in our final report found HERE.


Who and where are they?

The collaborative initiatives in and around Colorado that we have identified so far are presented in this interactive map. The default map view shows these collaboratives in three broad groups:

  • Forest – green
  • Water – blue
  • Land Use, range, & habitat – brown

These three focus areas are broad categories based on the major issues addressed by each group. Click the pin or icon to view the group’s name, website, status, issue focus areas, year of initiation, organizational status, and a brief description of the initiative. To view a more detailed categorization of the groups, you can click the button at the top left corner of the map and select the desired layer. You can also view a master list of the collaborative initiatives here

Note that “focus areas” are broad categories based on the major issues addressed by each group, and “emphasis” provides a narrower sorting category. Many groups address multiple issues, and there is some overlap, particularly for watershed groups. Coordinates were estimated based on headquarters, meeting locations, or project sites, depending on available information. 

This map will grow and change as our research continues. If you have questions, updates or corrections, please contact the project coordinator, Ch’aska Huayhuaca, at with “Atlas Map Update” in the subject line, or call (970)219-2320.

Executive Summary

The Atlas of Collaborative Conservation in Colorado charts the landscape of the state’s many collaborative conservation initiatives, which are incredibly diverse in form and function. In this report, we compare and contrast the problems and issues collaboratives form to address, the activities they work on together, their founding leadership and members, and how they organize themselves. The report, which is unique in its statewide focus on such a broad range of collaboratives, adds to a growing body of knowledge about how collaboration happens at different scales and in different regions.

Timeline of Colorado Collaboratives
Timeline of number of collaboratives established in Colorado each year between 1977 and 2015, showing major events that may have affected their formation (N=183).

We found that Colorado is rich with collaboratives, working on a wide array of issues. Over the last 40 years, more than 180 collaboratives have formed, with at least 157 still active today. They come together to address complex environmental and social issues that one organization or individual cannot address alone. These issues are usually wide-ranging and cross ownership boundaries, like flowing water, wildfires, migrating fish and wildlife, or weed spread. Collaboration is often triggered by government policies associated with these issues (like regulatory threats, funding incentives, or mandates), and also by environmental problems, risks, or crises that impact safety, life, and property. The people responsible for bringing collaboratives together represent individuals, industry, non-government organizations, and government agencies. They can work at the local, state, federal and tribal level, and can be combinations of government and non-government organizations. By working together with different kinds of members, collaboratives harness the power of broad and intersecting networks, pooled brain power and financial resources, and diverse decision-making authority. Together, they are learning and sharing information through monitoring, research and education, planning for change and resilience, developing and piloting innovative conservation tools and technologies, and strengthening relationships across the state of Colorado and beyond.

Access the full report HERE.