CSU launches new Conservation Research Fellowship to improve sustainable energy production

The new research will tackle issues such as: sudden aspen decline, stream function and sensitivity, restoration of stream and riparian areas, adaptive management of rangelands and wildlife habitat, and energy development impacts on large mammals in the Piceance Basin.

FORT COLLINS - Graduate students at Colorado State University will be conducting new research to help solve environmental conservation challenges on lands that support multiple uses, including energy production, in Colorado. The research was launched with funding support from a new grant from Chevron to CSU's Warner College of Natural Resources.


The new research will tackle issues such as: sudden aspen decline, stream function and sensitivity, restoration of stream and riparian areas, adaptive management of rangelands and wildlife habitat, and energy development impacts on large mammals in the Piceance Basin.

The Chevron donation of $1 million established the new Chevron Graduate Fellowship Program at CSU. The program is dedicated to expanding the base of knowledge about Piceance Basin ecosystems and the inter-relationship with human development. The grant provides funding to support five graduate student research projects on Chevron property in western Colorado for two and a half years.

"Maybe it shouldn't be a question of whether we have energy development or environmental conservation. We have to reframe the discussion and our research to address both," said CSU President Tony Frank. "Meeting societal needs for energy while conserving important ecosystems is central to CSU's land-grant mission of serving the critical needs of Colorado."

"Chevron believes this research will contribute valuable data to our understanding of how areas such as the Piceance Basin and Roan Plateau can be managed for long-term sustainability while maintaining the tradition of multiple uses," said Bruce Niemeyer, Chevron's Mid-Continent Business Unit vice president. "These areas are home to richly diverse populations of wildlife and habitat types, and they also support a wide range of human activity. One of our goals is to ensure that these lands will sustain this healthy diversity for decades to come. "

The Chevron Graduate Fellowship Program is an expansion of more than 40 years of energy-related conservation research conducted by CSU's Warner College in the Piceance Basin in northwestern Colorado. The College has established a global reputation for its comprehensive expertise in restoration and ecosystem management as well as wildlife management, geosciences and social sciences related to natural resource issues.

"Warner College of Natural Resources plays a unique and pivotal role in the energy arena with decades of specialized, cross-disciplinary experience," said Dean Joyce Berry. "This new research partnership will expand capacity to develop science-based solutions to complex environmental challenges."

The $1 million donation to CSU is part of Chevron's commitment to address and manage the environmental footprint of energy exploration and production. The company conducted a detailed process to identify alternative ideas for a project on its Piceance property

"After considering more than a dozen ideas, working with Colorado State University offered the most potential for lasting benefit and a meaningful initiative," said Michael DeBerry, manager of Chevron's Rocky Mountain Area. "This investment is a testament to CSU's scientific excellence and extensive history of impactful conservation research."

The research will begin in the summer of 2014, and a symposium to showcase the findings is tentatively scheduled for late fall 2016. Each project will be supervised by faculty in CSU's Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology; Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship; and Department of Geosciences. All research will be subjected to rigorous peer review for publication in scientific journals.

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