WildEarth Guardians

A Force for Nature

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Jen Pelz, Wild Rivers Program Director, Wild Earth Guardians

Jen Pelz is an attorney, biologist, and river activist. She grew up splitting her time between the middle valley in central New Mexico, the northern mountains along the Santa Fe River, and on the Conejos River in southern Colorado. Jen received her J.D. and Certificate of Environmental and Natural Resource Law from the University of Oregon School of Law in 2002 and obtained her B.A. in Field Biology from the University of Northern Colorado in 1998. Jen co-directed the 2001 Public Interest Environmental Law Conference in Eugene, Oregon and worked at the Western Environmental Law Center’s clinic. She cut here teeth in the water world practicing law for seven years at a small private firm in Denver, litigating land use, public lands, and water law cases. Her work currently focuses on securing environmental flows for the Rio Grande to support native fish, wildlife, and plants by holding state and federal water management agencies accountable, fighting for the Rio Grande to have a right to its own water, and reforming existing archaic water policies and rethinking water infrastructure in the West. In 2013, Jen finalized an agreement with the Albuquerque water utility that pioneered storage of water for environmental purposes in Rio Grande Basin. Jen recently published a innovative report and released a beautiful website (rethinkingtherio.org) advocating that water managers rethink how reservoirs are managed to conserve water and ensure river flows in the face of climate change and centuries of river damage.