The Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia, Colorado is pleased to announce that Hannah Stevens has been named Executive Director!
Hannah joins WSCC with an impressive history of conservation science, fundraising, project management, research and team leadership experience. She is joining us from High Country News where she served as the Donor Stewardship Manager, and previously worked advancing botanical science and conservation at The New York Botanical Garden, as well as consulting for national and international organizations such as the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia. Hannah has a long history with WSCC, including serving as the Watershed Stewardship Committee chairperson, River Fest Coordinator, and as a project consultant.
“I am beyond excited and honored to do the meaningful work needed to lead and grow this nearly 50 year old organization into the next chapter of community-based conservation for this special place we call home. It is clear the impactful work of WSCC has resulted in tangible changes; changes made possible by the dedicated nurturing and strengthening of grass-roots initiatives. The work WSCC does to protect and steward our watershed today and in the future remains as relevant and crucial as ever.
When my family moved to the North Fork Valley in 1989, WSCC was not yet born, the Western Slope Environmental Resource Council (WSERC) was a handful of committed volunteers working out of Hotchkiss Memorial Hall’s basement, an active in-stream gravel mine operated on the edge of town, and there was no public access to the river or locally accessible trails for biking or hiking.
What an incredibly different valley I came back to in 2012. The in-stream gravel mine was transformed into a beautiful river park providing public access to the North Fork River for the first time. The river and surrounding habitat had been restored in important sections, WSERC and the North Fork River Improvement Association had grown and merged to create what is now WSCC, and the mining economy was slowly making way to wineries, more and more organic farms, and even tourism. One important thing hasn’t changed, though: our amazing community of people who love, share, and care for this unique place.”
Hannah’s tenure comes at a time when the Western Slope is deeply impacted by climate change, and WSCC’s advocacy and stewardship work is even more important than ever as we continue to work with diverse stakeholders to meet emerging challenges and opportunities moving forward.
The Western Slope has big challenges ahead of us. WSCC continues to tirelessly advocate for our watersheds and public lands at a local, state, and federal level. Our community-wide stewardship work, including River Watch, Mike’s Hikes, Dark Skies monitoring, habitat restoration, and fence removal in wildlife corridors, builds on our advocacy efforts to help enhance the lands, air, water, and wildlife of the Western Slope. “We are thrilled that Hannah will be joining us as we expand the work we are doing, especially with water advocacy,” commented Julie Sapena, Board Co-Chair.
WSCC thanks Interim Executive Director Kathy Swartz, who successfully led the fundraising efforts to repair the Paonia River Park after this spring’s incredible flood damage. “WSCC has hired such an exceptional and experienced leader with Hannah. I look forward to working with her to smoothly transition the role and will continue to serve WSCC by joining the Board of Directors,” Swartz expressed. Hannah officially begins on September 5th.
Looking to the future, as WSCC enters into our 46th year as a not-for-profit organization, we envision landscapes defined by resilient ecological systems, where water management, agricultural practices, and recreation opportunities allow people and the environment to flourish. We will continue to inform and engage our community as we are all in this together.