Saturday March 30, 2024

Perspectives on Historical Challenges
Annual Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium


Agenda Register Register to attend remotely via Zoom


At the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center, we work to meet the challenges and develop new Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium Perspectives on Historical Challenges Saturday, March 30, 2024 Adams State University Colorado TM Great Stories Begin Here opportunities for students and communities in Colorado’s Rio Grande Basin; promoting solutions and strengthening the thriving spirit of collaboration in the San Luis Valley.


To engage and advance the conservation of land, water and historic and cultural attributes at the headwaters of the Rio Grande in the San Luis Valley.

The Salazar Center works to deepen the engagement between Adams State University’s faculty and students and the region’s active network of conservation organizations, agencies, districts and caring community members.


  • Changing climate, economy and demographics
  • Water scarcity, exportation threats and aquifer depletion
  • Impacts to and uncertainty for the future of agriculture, health of the watershed and wildlife habitat


  • To help grow the next generation of conservation leaders
  • To connect students and community members to the immense “field school” of the region’s public lands


  • To promote and support innovative stewardship of the Valley’s land and water resources
  • To strengthen connections between the region’s natural resources and its diverse cultures and heritage
  • To enhance related economic development for the community and career opportunities for Adams State University students

For More Information

Contact Us

Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center
Adams State University
Richardson Hall, Suite 3150
208 Edgemont Blvd.
Alamosa, CO 81101

Water Studies Minor

Water is Life! Aqua es vida!

Explore a Course

WATR 101 – Water Essentials: How Water Works in the West

Knowledge of water, from hydrology to policy, administration and water law, its essential role in economics and agriculture, the evolving human uses through history and into modern times, wide ranging ethical and equity issues, scientific research in environmental fields from geography to biology to watershed health, conservation and restoration practices, communications and education, and many more dimensions, is vital for those who live and thrive here.

The Water Studies Minor provides interdisciplinary courses for students in a range of degree programs. Enhanced knowledge of water in the West will prepare students for diverse career paths, civic engagement and participation in a more sustainable future.

$400 Scholarships Available!

Scholarships are available for students entering the Water Minor Program!  Applicable to required courses WATR 101 Water Essentials: How Water Works in the West (Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 Semesters) and WATR 201 Water Fundamentals and Functions (Spring Semester 2022).

Apply for Scholarship
Rio Grande Natural Area

Rio Grande Natural Area Initiative

Rio Grande Natural Area Initiative

Starting in 2018, the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University launched an initiative for the congressionally designated Rio Grande Natural Area (RGNA), encompassing the Rio Grande river corridor in Colorado from the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge south to the New Mexico state line (see map). This effort is in conjunction with community, government, and organizational partners to implement the recommendations of the RGNA Commission and their Management Plan released in 2015.

The Initiative aims to generate momentum and produce results that can benefit and engage Adams State University, the broader community and visitors to the San Luis Valley in learning about the rich history and cultural resources, protecting and restoring the environmental and wildlife values, developing the recreational opportunities, and increasing economic development for the area.

Water Education Initiative

Water Education Initiative

Water at the core of the San Luis Valley’s identity, economy and viability. The Water Education initiative is engaging Adams State University in water issues and opportunities, to enhance its relevance to the community and our changing economy, and to serve as an educational and project partner to increase water literacy, assist in projects, and “grow the next generation of water leaders.”

The Salazar Center is working to integrate water educational content into academic courses across disciplines and toffer students and the community compelling activities that deepen their water knowledge, These range from the annual Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium to presentations by diverse experts, student field trips, water related internships and volunteer opportunities for students in the SLV. These activities generate content for publications, videos, web-based information, press coverage, and other outreach/educational tools, including the building of a “Rio Grande Library” of resource materials and curated information about the river and its importance throughout history and into the future.

About the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center

Secretary Ken Salazar

Founded by Secretary Ken Salazar and his family in 2015, in honor of their parents, the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University engages in conservation and preservation efforts along with enhancing economic development and career opportunities for students, through outreach, education and programs in Colorado’s Rio Grande Basin.


Rio Grande Natural Area Celebration

The San Luis Valley is widely known for its collaborative partnerships.  And the beautiful new interpretive signs in the Rio Grande Natural Area (RGNA) at the Hwy 142 bridge are a prime example of public and private entities working together to achieve good outcomes for our communities and visitors alike. That’s what drew state and community leaders together at the site for a ribbon cutting and celebration on May 15, 2021.

Master of Ceremonies former Secretary of State and San Luis Valley native, Ken Salazar, the event drew upon US Senator John Hickenlooper, Governor Jared Polis, State Senator Cleave Simpson, State Representative Donald Valdez, County Commissioners Mitch Jarvies of Conejos County and Steven Romero of Costilla County, President Cheryl Lovell of Adams State University to speak about the importance of the area.  Also attending were community members and representatives of the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and state entities such as Colorado State Forest, CDOT, and more.

The event was co-hosted by the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center, the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area (, San Luis Valley Great Outdoors ( and the San Luis Valley Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management.

Learn more about RGNA