The Rocky Mountain and Southwest Desert areas of the United States are as diverse as the name suggests.  Comprised of 12 ecoregions from the Utah-Wyoming Rocky Mountains to the Chihuahuan Desert, the area reaches from the alpine summits of the Continental Divide to the low-elevation shores of the Gulf of Mexico.  Including some of the nation’s most stunning scenery, iconic western ranchlands, major river systems of the Colorado and Rio Grande, and vast areas of public land, this region harbors incredible biological richness and geophysical diversity.  

While growing population centers, such as Denver, Phoenix, Albuquerque and Las Vegas, traditional and alternative energy development, transmission lines, roadways, and cultivated agricultural pose threats to natural habitats, this highly diverse and varied landscape, coupled with relatively sparse population, provides opportunities to build resilience and connectivity across much of the region in order to address the impacts of a changing climate. 

The Nature Conservancy undertook a major scientific research project to map the locations of climate-resilient sites.  Teams of scientists mapped the bedrock and soils that underlie patterns of biodiversity as well as the topographic diversity and lack of fragmentation that promote natural resilience.  The results were combined into an index that identifies the places more likely to sustain diversity because they offer a wide range of micro-climate options within a connected network.  

Results from the recently-completed Rocky Mountain and Southwest Desert Resilience analysis show that a stunning 65% of the area is classified as resilient with confirmed biodiversity.  There are many ways to use the information in this report to begin to build the resilient and connected network necessary to conserve our natural world and ourselves in the face of a rapidly changing climate. 

The Rocky Mountain and Southwest Desert report has been recently completed (January 2020).  By late March 2020 we will combine this information with previously-completed reports for the Great Plains, the Pacific Northwest and California to present a robust picture of the resilient and connected network for the entire western United States.