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

Our research continues on how and why collaboratives get started, and what organizational models they adopt to achieve their shared objectives. A final report on the project will be released upon its completion in 2018. Below are some highlights of what we have learned so far.


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.

How do they collaborate?

The process of collaboration can look very different depending on the purpose of the initiative. The kinds of activities that an initiative might take together as an “organization of organizations” include:

  • identifying/ framing issues to address
  • prioritizing those issues
  • developing shared goals, vision, and/or mission
  • developing shared ground rules or procedures
  • identifying/ selecting actions or projects to achieve objectives
  • developing joint work plans/ prioritizing actions
  • joint fundraising
  • budgeting/ allocating funds
  • hiring/ directing leadership or staff
  • creating new programs
  • reporting on joint efforts
  • assessing and adjusting strategies to achieve objectives

What kinds of issues do they address?

Sustained collaboration requires a substantial investment of time, resources, and trust. The issues that get people to the table are often characterized by uncertainty, interdependence of stakeholders, visibility, or controversy. Many initiatives address multiple issues, and it is not uncommon for groups to change the issues they address over time.

What kinds of strategies do they use to achieve their shared objectives?

The figure highlights strategies and activities commonly undertaken by different kinds of collaborative groups to achieve their shared objectives.