223 episodes

Conversations with innovators of the American West. Guests include athletes, artists, adventurers, writers, ranchers, conservationists, entrepreneurs, thought leaders—anyone who’s doing inspired work that contributes to the region’s evolving and complex cultural fabric.

Through informal yet substantive interviews, conservationist Ed Roberson introduces you to these fascinating characters, giving you a better understanding of their careers, influences, and outlooks, as well as a deeper appreciation for life in the American West.

Mountain & Prairie with Ed Roberson Ed Roberson

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 961 Ratings

Conversations with innovators of the American West. Guests include athletes, artists, adventurers, writers, ranchers, conservationists, entrepreneurs, thought leaders—anyone who’s doing inspired work that contributes to the region’s evolving and complex cultural fabric.

Through informal yet substantive interviews, conservationist Ed Roberson introduces you to these fascinating characters, giving you a better understanding of their careers, influences, and outlooks, as well as a deeper appreciation for life in the American West.

    Kevin Krasnow - Keeping Jackson Hole Wild and Beautiful

    Kevin Krasnow - Keeping Jackson Hole Wild and Beautiful

    Kevin Krasnow is the Conservation Director at the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, a long-standing, highly effective organization whose mission is to “protect the wildlife, wild places, and community character of Jackson Hole.” For more than four decades, the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance has been a staunch advocate for keeping Jackson Hole wild and beautiful, and it has proven to be a nimble and creative protector of the legendary Wyoming valley. The organization has served as a watchdog against poorly planned development, a champion for public land, a community voice that holds elected officials accountable, and much more.
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    Kevin brings a fascinating and diverse professional background to his work at the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance– he’s worked as an Outward Bound instructor, a high school teacher, a college professor, and, most notably, he earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California Berkley. Prior to joining the team at the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, he worked for ten years at the Teton Science Schools in Jackson. As you’ll hear in our conversation, Kevin is a high-level expert in forest and wildfire ecology, and he speaks eloquently about the role of wildfires in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and beyond.
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    When I first headed out West from North Carolina nearly twenty years ago, I moved to Jackson Hole— and I will always have a tender spot in my heart for that particular area. So I was thrilled to have the opportunity to connect with Kevin and talk about all things related to ecology, wildlife, fire, and conversation in Jackson Hole. We started with a deep dive into Aspen trees, and why they are such an important and unique part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. We discussed the Yellowstone Fire of 1988 and how that disaster shaped forest management in the future. We discussed the unprecedented development pressure in and around Jackson, how Kevin and his organization collaborate with a wide range of conservation partners, his professional journey from indirect to direct conservation work, and how his career as an educator informs his work today.
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    If you’ve ever spent time in the Tetons, Yellowstone, or the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, then you’re going to learn a lot from Kevin. Please visit the episode notes for a full list of everything he mentions, and I hope you enjoy!
    ---
    Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance Kevin Krasnow Full episode notes and links: https://mountainandprairie.com/kevin-krasnow/ ---
    This episode is brought to you in partnership with the Colorado chapter of The Nature Conservancy and TNC chapters throughout the Western United States. Guided by science and grounded by decades of collaborative partnerships, The Nature Conservancy has a long-standing legacy of achieving lasting results to create a world where nature and people thrive.

    On the last Tuesday of every month throughout 2024, Mountain & Prairie will be delving into conversations with a wide range of The Nature Conservancy’s leaders, partners, collaborators, and stakeholders, highlighting the myriad of conservation challenges, opportunities, and solutions here in the American West and beyond.

    To learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s impactful work in the West and around the world, visit www.nature.org
    --
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    3:30 - Discussing Aspen trees and how they captured Kevin’s attention
    9:30 - Threats to Aspen populations
    13:30 - Looking at the Yellowstone Fire of 1988
    24:00 - How significantly forestry and attitudes toward fire have changed after the Yellowstone Fire of 1988 
    28:30 - What brought Kevin to the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance 
    31:00 - Whether or not COVID has impacted the urgency of JHCA’s work
    35:15 - What specific problems Kevin works on at JHCA 
    39:15 - How Kevin and JHCA have collaborated with The Nature Conservancy
    43:00 - Kevin

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Mike DeHoff - Exploring the Colorado River's Reemerging Rapids

    Mike DeHoff - Exploring the Colorado River's Reemerging Rapids

    Mike DeHoff is the Principal Investigator at Returning Rapids Project, a one-of-a-kind project that is documenting the recovery of the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon, upper Glen Canyon, and along the San Juan. Back in 1963, the construction of Glen Canyon Dam created Lake Powell, which submerged many of the area’s canyons– turning what were once wild stretches of the Colorado into flat water. Today, the southwest’s ongoing historic drought has caused Lake Powell’s water levels to drop significantly, revealing historic rapids, recently hidden geologic features, and riparian ecosystems that had been deep underwater for nearly fifty years.
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    Returning Rapids began as a personal project for Mike and three of his river-loving friends– Meg Flynn, Peter Lefebvre, and Chris Benson. They began to notice changes in the river created by Lake Powell’s receding waters and started documenting those changes and using historic photographs and documents to better understand the reemerging landscape. Over the years, their work caught the attention of universities, academics, scientists, and government agencies, all of whom were fascinated by what was being discovered deep in those canyons. Fast forward to today, and their work is not only enabling cutting-edge research, but it’s capturing the attention of bigtime media outlets, including a recent feature in Rolling Stone.
    -
    Mike connected with me virtually from his home base in Moab, Utah, and we had a fascinating discussion about the Colorado River, Lake Powell, and the history of the Returning Rapids project. We started out with a brief history lesson on the drought’s effect on the Colorado River, then we dug into issues such as the mind-blowing amount of sediment created by Glen Canyon Dam. We discussed when Mike and his partners realized that their personal project was capturing the attention of the public, the challenges of garnering attention for lesser-known places like Cataract Canyon, and the idea of combining Lake Powell and Lake Mead. We also talk a lot about Mike’s personal journey with this project, and how his willingness to follow his curiosity, partner with very smart people, take risks, and work extremely hard has had a significant scientific impact. We also discuss books, his mentors, his desire to learn from everyone he meets, and much more.
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    A huge thanks to Mike, Meg, Peter, and Chris for their important work, and for providing such a solid example for all of us who feel drawn to make a difference here in the American West.
    ---
    Returning Rapids Project Rolling Stone article on Returning Rapids Full episode notes and links: https://mountainandprairie.com/mike-dehoff/ ---
    This episode is brought to you in partnership with the Mighty Arrow Family Foundation.
    To whom much is given, much is expected. This value guides the philosophy behind the Mighty Arrow Family Foundation today.
    Committed to its cause and infused with an entrepreneurial spirit, Mighty Arrow aims to invest in solutions that take action on climate change to build a more vibrant future, repair relationships from farm to market to table, heal our connection to the lands and waters we call home, and demand a more just and equitable society.
    To learn more about Mighty Arrow’s forward-thinking, optimistic, and visionary work here in the American West and beyond, please visit www.mightyarrow.org.
    ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    3:30 - The drought of the early 2000s and how it started a 20+ year journey for Mike
    16:30 - How an entire land mass of Colorado River sediment can be created with no one claiming management or responsibility of it
    21:30 - When Mike’s project shifted from a personal interest to an interest of the public
    26:15 - The surprising rate that Lake Powell and Cataract Canyon are capable of recovering
    34:30 - How Mike garners attention for lesser-known but important places like Cataract Canyon
    37:15 - Discussing the ide

    • 58 min
    SHED SESSION: Seven Must-Read Books That You May Not Know About

    SHED SESSION: Seven Must-Read Books That You May Not Know About

    An excerpt from my most recent Shed Session episode, highlighting seven of my favorite books that you may have never heard of.
    To listen to the full episode and all future Shed Sessions, become a Patreon supporter.
    FULL EPISODE: https://www.patreon.com/posts/shed-session-you-97515649
    PATREON: https://mountainandprairie.com/patreon
    MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE: https://mountainandprairie.com/

    • 16 min
    Live at the Amon Carter Museum - In Conversation with James Prosek and Spencer Wigmore

    Live at the Amon Carter Museum - In Conversation with James Prosek and Spencer Wigmore

    This is a special live episode that was recorded at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas. The event was centered around the museum’s ongoing exhibition titled Trespassers: James Prosek and the Texas Prairie, and the episode features a fascinating on-stage conversation with artist and past podcast guest James Prosek and art curator Spencer Wigmore.
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    Trespassers is an exhibit about grasslands– specifically, James examines how we think about and define America’s imperiled prairie ecosystem. Over the course of more than two years, James traveled throughout Texas and the Southern Plains, visiting private ranches and urban restoration sites, and he was often accompanied by some of Texas’s most well-renowned grasslands experts. He investigated ideas around how our man-made boundaries and concepts attempt to define grasslands, and how grasslands often do not conform to our desires to control them. He examines ideas around fire, species classification, conservation, and natural history, and the end result is a collection of more than 20 mind-blowing paintings and sculptures.
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    As the curator for this exhibit, Spencer played a very unique role throughout the entire project– he was the one who initially approached James with the idea, he accompanied James on many of his grasslands road trips, and he even arranged the exhibit in its stunning space within the museum. So I loved learning about the collaboration between artist and curator, how they complimented each other’s personalities, and how they ultimately worked together to bring this spectacular collection of meaningful art into the world.
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    As you probably remember from my first podcast conversation with James, he’s a deep thinker who has spent his entire career digging into the nuances of our natural world. And Spencer’s depth of understanding of art history and the artistic process– as well as his ability to communicate his knowledge in a fun and engaging way– is second to none.  So I know you’ll enjoy this conversation that covers everything from broad, big-picture ideas around the philosophies of defining species, all the way down to the details of how James created such intricate, delicate sculptures. Be sure to check out the episode notes for a full list of everything we discussed.
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    I’d encourage you to visit the episode webpage, as I have included a gallery of images of the exhibit that will serve as a great reference point for some of our discussions. And the nice folks at the Carter also recorded a video of the entire event, that is embedded on my webpage and available on Youtube.  Follow the link in the notes to access all of that.
    -
    The episode starts with a kind introduction from The Carter’s Manager of Adult Programming, Madeleine Fitzgerald and then James, Spencer, and I begin our conversation.  I hope you enjoy!
    ---
    Amon Carter Museum of American Art Trespassers: James Prosek and the Texas Prairie James Prosek Spencer Wigmore Watch the YouTube video Full episode notes and links: https://mountainandprairie.com/carter/ ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    3:00 - Welcome statements
    10:45 - How the Trespassers exhibition came about in Spencer’s mind, and how it landed for James
    19:15 - Comparing American grasslands to the Great Pyramids
    23:45 - James’ painting process
    29:15 - Spencer’s role as curator
    34:00 - Discussing the work Fort Worth Composition No. 1
    37:45 - Discussing James’ interest in silhouettes 
    42:30 - James’ use of bronze to depict burned logs
    47:00 - James’ clay flowers
    50:15 - The biggest surprise in this project for Spencer
    54:00  -What James has learned about grasslands since finishing the project
    1:01:15 - James’ read on the state of western grasslands conservation
    1:06:15 - James’ book recommendations 
    1:09:30 - How Spencer sets up the gallery space
    1:14:00 - Audience questions begin
    1:14:45

    • 1 hr 30 min
    Ivy Spohnholz - Climate Solutions, Sustainable Fisheries, and Resilient Communities

    Ivy Spohnholz - Climate Solutions, Sustainable Fisheries, and Resilient Communities

    Ivy Spohnholz is the Alaska State Director at The Nature Conservancy, where she leads the organization’s critical work around climate solutions, sustainable fisheries, and resilient communities. Given its size, location, climate, demographics, and economics, Alaska presents a very unique blend of conservation challenges– challenges that can directly affect massive, landscape-scale ecosystems and the communities within them. We’ve rarely if ever dug into the details of conservation in Alaska on this podcast, so I was thrilled to have Ivy join me for such an in-depth conversation.
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    Ivy was born in a dry log cabin in the remote Wrangell Mountains, in what is now Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. Her entire career has revolved around public service– she’s held leadership roles at the Salvation Army, University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska Conservation Foundation, and Abused Women’s Aid in Crisis. She also served for more than six years in the Alaska House of Representatives, where she honed her skills as a pragmatic and effective problem solver. In the fall of 2022, she took the reins as TNC’s Alaska State Director and has been applying her skills as a leader and problem solver toward Alaska’s distinctive conservation challenges.
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    I’ve been lucky enough to visit Alaska on two separate occasions, and I’ve had some of the most formative experiences of my life in the Alaska Range. The size and scale of the mountains, valleys, and wildlife are so staggering that it's impossible to visit Alaska without gaining a deep respect for both the landscapes and the people who live there. So I was excited to have the opportunity to chat with Ivy about her adventurous upbringing in Alaska and her service-oriented career. We talk in detail about her unexpected entrance into politics, and how she quickly learned to lead and navigate the law-making process as an elected official. We discuss TNC’s focus areas in Alaska, and we talk a lot about Bristol Bay and its ecological and economic significance in the world. As you’ve probably come to expect, we talk about the all-important power of relationships, and we also discuss the need to be practical and optimistic.
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    A big thank you to Ivy for taking the time to talk with me– I greatly appreciate all of the important work being done by TNC Alaska. Enjoy!
    ---
    Ivy Sponholtz The Alaska Chapter of the Nature Conservancy Episode notes & Links: https://mountainandprairie.com/ivy-spohnholz/ --

    This episode is brought to you in partnership with the Colorado chapter of The Nature Conservancy and TNC chapters throughout the Western United States. Guided by science and grounded by decades of collaborative partnerships, The Nature Conservancy has a long-standing legacy of achieving lasting results to create a world where nature and people thrive.

    On the last Tuesday of every month throughout 2024, Mountain & Prairie will be delving into conversations with a wide range of The Nature Conservancy’s leaders, partners, collaborators, and stakeholders, highlighting the myriad of conservation challenges, opportunities, and solutions here in the American West and beyond.

    To learn more about The Nature Conservancy’s impactful work in the West and around the world, visit www.nature.org
    --
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    3:30 - Ivy’s birth in a dry log cabin in the Wrangell Mountains
    7:15 - Ivy’s childhood
    10:15 - When Ivy left Alaska, and what brought her back
    12:00 - How serving others became a core part of Ivy
    17:00 - When Ivy became an elected official
    24:00 - Discussing the political landscape of Alaska
    28:15 - How Ivy became involved with TNC
    34:45 - Discussing TNC’s work in Alaska
    41:00 - How Ivy balances working urgently with the often slower pace of building relationships 
    46:30 - The importance of Bristol Bay
    52:00 - Potential future threats to Bristol Bay
    57:00 - The biggest surprise for Ivy in

    • 1 hr 6 min
    Chad Ellis - On Leadership, Building Relationships, and Working for the Greater Good

    Chad Ellis - On Leadership, Building Relationships, and Working for the Greater Good

    Chad Ellis is the CEO of the Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT), which is one of the nation’s leading ag-focused conservation organizations. TALT’s mission is “to conserve the Texas heritage of agricultural lands, wildlife habitats, and natural resources,” but at its core, TALT’s work is built on the foundation of long-term, trusting, mutually respectful relationships.
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    Given the small proportion of public lands in Texas compared to other western states, much of the responsibility for landscape-scale ecological health falls on the shoulders of private landowners. And since 2007, TALT has helped these landowners find ways to not only protect their family legacies, but to improve the overall quality of grasslands, water, air, and wildlife for all Texans.
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    Chad was raised in rural Texas, and from a very early age, he felt a deep connection to land, agriculture, and wildlife. While his entire career has been devoted to thoughtfully and effectively stewarding natural resources, you’ll quickly realize that at his core, Chad is a relationship builder. During his tenures at the NRSC, the Noble Research Institute, and now as the leader of TALT, Chad has implemented many cutting-edge conservation solutions– but, as you’ll hear him explain, none of these projects would be successful without solid, trusting relationships between all stakeholders.
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    Longtime listeners will recognize Chad from an earlier appearance on Mountain & Prairie– back in 2023, he was one of the panelists in an episode called “Landscape-Scale Management in a Private Land State,” which was recorded live at the Texas Chapter of the Wildlife Society’s annual meeting. In this episode, we dig more into Chad’s personal and professional journey in conservation– why he has devoted his career to such a challenging-yet-critical cause, and how he approaches his work from both practical and philosophical perspectives. We discuss his love of entrepreneurial approaches, his leadership style, mentors, the storied legacy of TALT’s founder Blair Fitzsimons, supporting the next generation of conservationists, his favorite books, and much more.
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    If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to check out TALT’s website and follow its work on social media– TALT is a constant source of inspiration for me and all of the Western conservation community. Thanks for listening!
    ---
    Texas Agricultural Land Trust Chad on LinkedIn Chad's first M&P appearance: Landscape-Scale Management in a Private Land State TALT on Instagram Full episode notes and links: https://mountainandprairie.com/chad-ellis/ Ed's upcoming Rogue River Trip ---
    TOPICS DISCUSSED:
    4:30 - Where Chad grew up
    7:45 - Chad’s work with PERC
    10:15 - Where Chad’s entrepreneurial background came from
    16:15 - How Chad moved up in the NRCS ranks
    18:45 - Chad’s time with Mobil Foundation
    21:45 - Chad’s personal vision
    24:30 - Chad’s motivation to strengthen people’s connection to the land, instead of just supporting the land itself
    27:15 - How Chad hires for a passionate team
    29:15 - Chad’s work securing federal funding
    32:45 - How Chad thinks about failure
    34:45 - How Chad presented his vision for TALT to an already accomplished director, Blair Fitzsimons
    40:30 - Chad’s goal to support the next generation of conservationists
    44:30 - How Chad interprets the threats facing conservation in Texas
    51:30 - How Chad prioritizes his allocation of resources
    58:45 - Exploring Chad’s level of patience, as well as the various ways that people learn and work
    1:03:30 - The importance of relationships
    1:07:45 - Chad’s book recommendations
    1:09:15 - Chad’s parting words of advice
    ---
    ABOUT MOUNTAIN & PRAIRIE:
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    • 1 hr 13 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
961 Ratings

961 Ratings

Asthepotter ,

This show has changed my perspective!

Such a great podcast! I’ve learned so many things by listening that I had no clue about. Ed is a great host and he gets incredible guests to share truly valuable insights into the world around us.

bob0828 ,

Fantastic

Always learn something new!

Lawrence KM ,

This dude

Great dude, I wish he was my dad uncle… wait… he is!!

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