Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory

Rocky Mountain Environment and Society Program

Mountain Images

The Rocky Mountain West is the fastest-growing region of the United States. The rapid immigration of people is challenging the ability of this spectacular region to meet the environment’s and society’s needs for water, land, habitat, and recreation. Traditional ways of life, historical land uses, and ecosystems are facing increasing challenges from overlapping and often conflicting uses. The goals of the Rocky Mountain Environment and Society Program (RMES) are to understand and quantify the influence of natural and human-induced change on Rocky Mountain ecosystems from the mountains to the plains, to understand and quantify the influence of mountain ecological change on regional society and economics, to reach out to people from mountain regions around the world who are facing similar challenges, and to effectively communicate knowledge to decision-makers, managers, students, and the public.

Lawn LakeNREL has a long history of success in addressing complex Rocky Mountain issues. Our ecosystem approach provides a holistic evaluation of the State of the Rockies. Decades-long relationships have gained the trust of federal, state, county, and private land and resource managers. NREL leads in understanding issues such as effects of atmospheric nitrogen deposition, consequences of land use on wildlife disease transmission, large ungulate behavior in national parks, incorporating wildlife habitat into county land use planning, and forecasting effects of climate change on mountain ecosystems. NREL-developed data sets and websites are regularly used and consulted by scientists, managers, citizens, and students.

RMES results will be made available through a series of outlets, including a recurring conference on environmental issues of the Rocky Mountains, outreach workshops and “summer camps” for legislators and managers, a Public Information Office with current relevant ecological science in understandable formats,an encyclopedic “State of the Rockies” desktop book and website, a visionary book of scenarios: "The West in 2050,” an online Rocky Mountain Issues journal, and spatial and interdisciplinary databases. A Mountain Studies major at Colorado State University that capitalizes on our proximity to the Rockies will prepare the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists and practitioners to address the complex issues of this changing and beautiful land.

NREL scientists with Rocky Mountain research interests: Jill Baron, Stephanie Kampf, Dan Binkley, Gillian Bowser, Kate Shoenecker, Lee MacDonald, Cameron Aldridge, Matthew Wallenstein, Melinda Laituri, Bill Romme, Greg Newman, Monique Rocca, John Moore, Tom Hobbs, Tom Stohlgren, David Swift, Dennis Ojima, Joe von Fischer, Rich Conant, Julia Klein, Claudia Boot.

 Relevant NREL Projects

Download the full description of the RMES (pdf).

 For further information contact Jill Baron ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )