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Fort Lewis College to host inaugural Four Corners Climate Summit

Fort Lewis College to host inaugural Four Corners Climate Summit

Renowned environmentalist and writer Terry Tempest Williams will deliver the keynote speech.

FLC CampusDURANGO—Renowned environmentalist and writer Terry Tempest Williams will join national policymakers, artists, local scientists, and Four Corner social justice advocates at Fort Lewis College’s inaugural Four Corners Climate Summit.

The day-long event will include presentations by the authors of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, which documents the vulnerabilities, impacts, and risks associated with climate change in the American Southwest.

Regional climate experts, conservationists, and artists will also present during the event. It will be held on April 27 at Fort Lewis College and is free and open to the public, but space is limited. RSVP is strongly encouraged.

“Climate change is of interest across our entire campus and region,” said FLC Provost Mario Martinez. As the leading education institution in our region, Fort Lewis College can convene experts and draw on faculty expertise to provide guidance and support to prepare our region for continued climate change and ongoing work on action and solutions.”

The idea for the symposium came up as Provost Mario Martinez and Emile Elias discussed the importance of sharing research with the larger community and the opportunity to pair information from the 5th Assessment with FLC's newest art exhibit on climate change in Colorado.

Dr. Elias is a research hydrologist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and director at the USDA Southwest Climate Hub. She said she was excited about the opportunity to bring renowned researchers to campus to participate in the summit.

"The Fifth National Climate Assessment is the U.S. Government’s preeminent report on climate change impacts, risks, and responses. We are deeply grateful to the scientists who agreed to serve as authors and will join us in Durango to share findings and answer questions. Leading scientists will talk about wildfire, water scarcity, extreme heat, human health, and agriculture,” Elias said.

Events will take place in the Student Union Ballroom unless otherwise noted.

Summit highlights:

Fifth National Climate Assessment Presentation and Panel 10 a.m.

Join foremost climate change and adaptation national experts on the country's climate change state. Panelists will include Emile Elias, Ph.D., director of the USDA Southwest Climate Hub; Jennifer Vanos, Ph.D., associate professor, University of Arizona; Steven M. Ostoja, Ph.D., director of the USDA California Climate Hub; Mark Brunsun, Ph.D., professor, Utah State University; Caiti Steele, Ph.D., deputy director, USDA Southwest Climate Hub; and Allyza Lustig, senior staff member, U.S Global Change Research Program.

Terry Tempest WilliamsKeynote Speaker Terry Tempest Williams, 1:15 p.m. 

Williams is a longtime writer and conservationist who has rooted her work in the environmental issues and ecology of the Southwest. From her lifetime as an environmental activist, she will share wisdom and lessons that will help us better understand contemporary environmental challenges.

Williams is known for her impassioned and lyrical prose. She is the author of environmental literature classics, including "Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place," "An Unspoken Hunger: Stories from the Field," and many more. Williams was featured in Stephen Ives's PBS documentary series “The West” (1996) and Ken Burns' PBS series “The National Parks: America's Best Idea” (2009).

Regional experts’ presentations, 2 p.m.

Karen Bailey, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Environmental Studies Department at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is a systems researcher interested in understanding how human-environment interactions impact human health, well-being, and natural resources.

She is interested in sustainable livelihoods, wildlife conservation, global change, and coupled human-natural systems.

Brandon Francis, a graduate research assistant at New Mexico State University, Farmington, New Mexico, and FLC alumni (‘15), Francis is a plant researcher whose family has stewarded corn in the Black Mesa, New Mexico, for several generations. He began his work with sustainable food systems at The Old Fort Lewis in Hesperus, Colo., where he completed an internship and apprenticeship in sustainable agriculture methods. He's been conducting high-elevation Four Sisters experiments with seed varieties endemic to the Southwest while deepening his connection to his Diné heritage through agriculture. He was recently featured in the State of Native American Agriculture address.

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk and Travis Custer – Montezuma Land Conservancy. Born and raised in southwestern Colorado, Lopez-Whiteskunk is a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of Towaoc. She began advocating for land, air, water, and animals at an early age. Lopez-Whiteskunk strongly believes that the inner core of healing comes from the knowledge of our land and elders. She is a former co-chair for the Bears Ears Intertribal Coalition and was elected to serve as a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Council in October 2013.

As the Executive Director of Montezuma Land Conservancy, Custer has played an instrumental role in advancing the organization's community-centered conservation initiatives through its education center, Fozzie’s Farm, and partnership with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. Custer has a deep passion for the power of connecting people to the land and exploring the diverse stories of how land weaves itself through the human experience.

Exhibition Reception & Discussion, Coloradans and Our Shared Environment in Times of Challenge and Change, 3:30 p.m., Center of Southwest Studies  

Join us at the Center of Southwest Studies for a reception and discussion of the exhibition Coloradans and our Shared Environment in Times of Challenge and Change. This exhibition explores the deep connections Coloradans have with the state's natural landscape, highlighting the challenges of fire, drought, water, and air quality in our communities through artwork created by artist-scientist teams.

Visit the Four Corners Climate Summit webpage for a full list of events, more information, and registration.­­­

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