Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Environment and Society

Committee Chair(s)

Mark Brunson


Mark Brunson


Karin Kettenring


Ole Sleipness


Approximately half of the wetlands in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) are degraded due to human disturbances that often occur beyond park boundaries. Like most protected areas, RMNP is part of a larger ecosystem with critical connections to surrounding lands. Therefore, more effective stewardship of wetlands within RMNP is likely to be achieved through cross-boundary cooperative efforts. Through interviews with wetland stewardship agencies and organizations and an analysis of their wetland plans and policies, barriers and opportunities for cross-boundary stewardship were identified, as well as common structures used to facilitate work across boundaries. Wetlands outside of RMNP are experiencing similar impact across boundaries as those within the park. Though participants recognize that working cooperatively with neighboring entities can benefit wetlands, they also reported that the most significant cross-boundary challenge is working with others. Despite these challenges, many entities in the greater RMNP ecosystem have found ways to work together. We defined three types of cooperative interactions - communication, coordination, and collaboration - and developed a framework that describes elements of each type. Based on these findings and the framework presented, we provide recommendations on how to address cooperative management challenges, while taking advantage of opportunities to facilitate cross-boundary stewardship for wetland integrity at the ecosystem-scale.