Welcome to the Mile High Science Policy Roundup, where we will periodically share news and happenings in the Colorado science and policy arena. It’s already March, and we’re off to a busy start to the year here in Colorado – especially within the natural resources, climate, energy, or public health world. So here are a few issues that piqued our interest. 


Wolf Reintroduction 

In December, Colorado Parks and Wildlife released ten gray wolves onto public land in Summit and Grand Counties. The reintroduction came after Colorado voters narrowly passed Proposition 114 in 2020 to reintroduce wolves west of the Continental Divide.  

However, the reintroduction has not come without its challenges, contentions, and considerations. For example, western states, including Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, denied Colorado’s request for sourcing the wolves. The released ten came from Oregon, which is home to a smaller wolf population than other western states, but officials say this will not impact Oregon’s conservation efforts. Some ranchers in Colorado still have concerns and have even filed lawsuits about the impacts on their livelihoods. Questions about transparency also arose, after wildlife officials didn’t give advance notice to ranchers near release sites.  

The Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan accounts for 30 to 50 wolves to be brought to the state over the next three to five years, but where all these wolves will be sourced from is still to be determined. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, in northeastern Washington State, have agreed to be a source for up to 15 gray wolves for Colorado, set to be captured and released between December 2024 and March 2025.  

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife department tracks wolf activity via collars, and publishes the map online, although specific location data is not shared to protect the wolves. As of February 27, 2024, all 10 reintroduced wolves – plus two others that were previously living in Colorado – are still alive.  

For more information, check out our seven-part series on the Science & Stories of Restoring Wolves to Colorado.  


Climate, Energy & Air Quality 

Last week, Colorado released the updated Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap 2.0, outlining near-term actions to address major sources of emissions. According to a scorecard from a November 2023 study between RMI and the Colorado Energy Office, the state will achieve a little more than 80% of the 2030 carbon emission reduction target (which is 50% less emissions from 2005 levels). Officials acknowledge that while progress is being made, additional policy changes will be needed to close the gap.  

Air quality and minimizing air pollutants are shaping up to be a legislative priority this session, with multiple bills already introduced by the General Assembly. Bills introduced thus far include those targeted at, among other things, making improvements to air quality through emission standards for off-road diesel-fueled fleets. California instated similar regulations in 2022. Other bills have been introduced to target air quality enforcement, and permitting, and reducing ozone levels in nonattainment areas. Another bill, relating to disproportionally impacted communities, as currently written, lacks support from the Governor’s Office, stating that it “… represents a misunderstanding of the GEMM 2 rule…” which is a 2023 regulation to reduce emissions from the industrial sector, and it would not reduce pollution but move it out of state. 

To learn more about air quality in the region, tune in to our podcast, Clearing the Air.  



Misinformation, or “fake news,” is not a new concept. “Post-truth” was even named as the 2016 Word of the Year. At the Colorado Capitol, legislators have introduced a bill that would enable the Colorado Attorney General to conduct a study on preventing and combatting the sharing and spreading of misinformation and disinformation through an initiative to encourage respectful engagement and discourse. The bill aims to develop resources with organizations across the state to facilitate productive conversations regarding statewide and national issues and help people find common ground. It would also require a study of how the internet, social media, and other media channels are used to share and spread misinformation and disinformation.  

Legislators have also introduced a bill that aims to target the use of AI-generated deepfakes in election communications. This is not just a concern in Colorado, and as the November presidential election approaches and AI becomes easier to access, bills aimed at targeting deepfakes have been introduced in over 40 other states.  

To get started with your own conversations about misinformation, we have a set of resources and tools on Navigating Misinformation 


Water Rights 

Back in 2022 when we dove deep into water law for our podcast, Water, Under Pressure, we came across a story about the 1923 South Platte River Compact between Colorado and Nebraska, where Nebraska was proposing to build a canal across the state lines. Since then, Nebraska has appropriated $628 million to build the canal, and the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources has also purchased just under 90 acres of Colorado land. The 1923 Compact established each state’s rights to use water from the South Platte River and Lodgepole Creek, a tributary that flows through Nebraska and joins the South Platte River in Colorado. The Compact states that Nebraska is entitled to a certain amount of water from the river during the non-irrigation season, and that Nebraska can build, maintain, and operate canals within Colorado’s border to divert water for their use. It also allows Nebraska to buy land from Colorado landowners through eminent domain to build such a canal. Colorado officials have responded, stating that due to climate change, ongoing drought, and snowpack concerns, plus other Colorado development projects along the South Platte River, they could not determine how much water would be available to Nebraska, even if legally available.  


Parting Thoughts 

We’ll leave you with the news that the third edition of the Climate Change in Colorado report was published on January 8. This report is useful for our state policymakers and decision-makers as they grapple with the management and planning for Colorado's water resources and the societal impacts climate change and extreme weather events have on all Coloradans. 

From all of us at the Institute, thanks for reading.


Catch up on all blog posts here.   

Disclosure statement:
The Institute for Science & Policy is committed to publishing diverse perspectives in order to advance civil discourse and productive dialogue. Views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute, the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, or its affiliates.