2021 – 2022 CSU Competitive Grant Program Awardees

The Colorado Water Center provides seed funds for impactful ideas addressing water challenges at home and around the world. Colorado State University is a leader in the water community, and the CSU Competitive Grant Program seeks to further develop our water expertise, scholarship, research, and outreach. Our five awarded projects confront the cutting-edge of water science, seek to define ethics of rivers, and are reaching underserved populations. Read more about the projects below and in the feature article in the SOURCE.

Water Research Teams

Photo courtesy of Camille Stevens-Rumann

Effects of the Cameron Peak Fire on stream-riparian food webs along an elevational gradient

The Cameron Peak Fire spanned over 2,000 meters in elevation, providing a unique opportunity to test how the predictable environmental variations controlled by elevation affect ecological changes caused by fire. Dan Preston, assistant professor in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and a diverse team, seek to quantify how fire changes the flow of nutrients between ecosystems on land and under water. They will survey aquatic habitats of the threatened greenback cutthroat trout that are the target of substantial recovery efforts in the region. Project results aim to inform natural resource management within the Cache la Poudre Watershed.

Team Investigators

PI: Dan Preston, Assistant Professor, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Co-PIs:
Yoichiro Kanno, Assistant Professor, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Ryan Morrison, Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Kurt Fausch, Professor Emeritus, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Johanna Kraus, Research Ecologist, USGS, Columbia Environmental Research Center
James Roberts, Research Ecologist, USGS , Great Lakes Science Center
Chris Kennedy, Fish Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
Matt Fairchild, Forest Fisheries Biologist, US Forest Service, Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests
Dick Jefferies, Conservation Chair, Trout Unlimited, Rocky Mountain Flycasters Chapter
Jennifer Kovecses, Executive Director, Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed

Fire, fungi, and flora: How plant and soil microbial succession drive hydrologic processes post-fire

In the water-limited forests impacted by Colorado’s 2020 fires, fungi may play an essential role in the water holding capacity of soils. Camille Stevens-Rumann, assistant professor in the Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, leads an efficient team, including a graduate student who is an expert in fire ecology and scientists across the state. They will work to uncover links between fungi and hydrologic activity. Fungi are the first organisms to colonize environments after major disturbances such as fires. The team will study relationships between fire, fungal colonization, water dynamics, longer-term plant succession, and erosion potential.

Team Investigators

PI: Camille Stevens-Rumann, Assistant Professor, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship

Co-PIs:
Michael McNorvell, M.S. student, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship
Charles Rhoades, Research Biogeochemist, Rocky Mountain Research Station
Michael Remke, Research Associate, Mountain Studies Institute

Camille Stevens-Rumann conducting field research
Photo courtesy of Camille Stevens-Rumann

Water Fellow

Knowing Rivers for Life: Toward an Ethic for Flowing Waters

Rivers offer humans far more than simply water to drink and grow crops and places to go boating, catch fish, or recreate. Both the sciences and humanities show that rivers calm us physiologically, heal us psychologically, offer us solace after personal loss, and speak to our deepest needs for wholeness and resilience. Through a series of essays, Kurt Fausch, professor emeritus in the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, will develop a 21st-century ethic for our relationship to flowing waters. He will draw readers close to rivers, beneath their reflective surfaces and show them the challenges and opportunities these life-giving waters offer.

Team Investigators

PI: Kurt Fausch, Professor Emeritus, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology

Co-PIs:
Audrey Harris, M.S. student, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
George Valentine, M.S. student, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Sam Lewis, M.S. student, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Kristine Mackessy, Illustrator
Jeremy Monroe, Director, Freshwaters Illustrated
Erin Greb, Cartographer, Erin Greb Cartography

Water Education and Engagement Projects

Writing water: Engaging underserved youth and adults through critical literacy and water education 

Sparking a new partnership with the Colorado Water Center, Tobi Jacobi, director of the CSU Community Literacy Center, will develop and deliver an interdisciplinary curriculum extending current work with incarcerated youth and adults through the SpeakOut! program. The project will allow confined writers to grapple with local, place-based water issues through in-person or virtual field trips. The primary mission of the Community Literacy Center is to create alternative literacy opportunities to educate and empower underserved populations (e.g., incarcerated juveniles and adults, women) and to support university-community literacy outreach programs. Jacobi will lead an interdisciplinary team to develop a 6-8 week curriculum, train CSU interns, develop an assessment tool, and pilot the program. The program will provide vital space for community engagement for this underserved population.

Team Investigators

PI: Tobi Jacobi, Director, Community Literacy Center, Department of English

Co-PIs:
Mary Ellen Sanger, Associate Director, Community Literacy Center, Department of English
Lisa Schlueter, Programs and Volunteer Coordinator, Larimer County Jail
Lori Whitson, Programs and Volunteer Coordinator, Larimer County Community Corrections

Image courtesy of Community Literacy Center
Photo courtesy of CSU Environmental Learning Center

River investigators: Connecting youth and families to the Cache la Poudre River

Connection and attachment to a place are key to motivating people to conserve that space. Confronting that challenge, Nicole Stafford, director of the CSU Environmental Learning Center, will collaborate with a large team to develop bilingual, Poudre-specific activity guides for youth and families to use along the Poudre River Trail in Fort Collins. The guides will focus on access for underrepresented populations and will be available in printed and digital formats. Playful, inquiry-based activities aim to build connection, knowledge, attitudes, and action skills related to the Poudre River. Participants will discover the natural and human history of the river and the challenges facing the river.

Team Investigators

 PI: Nicole Stafford, Director, Colorado State University Environmental Learning Center

Co-PIs:
Kira Puntenney-Desmond, Research Associate, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability; Project Manager, Stream Tracker
Stephanie Kampf, Professor, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Aditi Bhaskar, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Steven Fassnacht, Professor, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Randall Boone, Professor, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
John Moore, Professor, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability; Director of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory
Julia Klein, Associate Professor, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability
Andrew Warnock, Director, Natural Sciences Education and Outreach Center
Linden Pearsall, Project Coordinator, Poudre Heritage Alliance
Jennifer Kovecses, Executive Director, Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed