Western Slope Conservation Center

The Western Slope Conservation Center has relied on our members, donors, and supporters to protect and enhance our public lands and watersheds in Western Colorado for the past 40 years. With your support, we'll continue to produce tangible and enduring results for our lands, air, water, & wildlife.

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Ben Katz, Public Lands Program Director
Start Date: 2019

Ben joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in 2019. He grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Vermont in 2012 with a B.S. in Environmental Science. His interest in public lands began after college, when he worked as a Wilderness Ranger in the Weminuche Wilderness in San Juan National Forest. Travelling throughout southwest Colorado that summer, the natural landscapes and breathtaking scenery ingrained a desire to defend wild areas for future generations. After a second summer working as a Wilderness Ranger in the John Muir Wilderness, he moved into a role as a Wilderness Fellow with USFWS, writing baseline Wilderness character monitoring reports for Wilderness areas within wildlife refuges in Alaska and Nebraska. After working for a few years in water quality, Ben is excited to focus his efforts on protecting and preserving the public lands on the Western Slope. In his free time, he enjoys long distance backpacking, hiking, snowboarding, and relaxing with a good book.

Patrick Dooling, Executive Director
Start Date: 2018

Patrick joined the Western Slope Conservation Center in 2016. A Pennsylvania native and graduate of Penn State University, Patrick was inspired to study Geology while on a trip to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks. Driven by his desire to understand how these iconic landscapes were formed and drawn by the allure of the mountain west, he earned his M.S. in Geology from the University of Utah. After studying a wide array of geological sciences including volcanology in Iceland, earthquake geology on major faults in Southern California, and sedimentology in southern Utah, he worked as a petroleum geologist/project manager in Houston, TX. Once again unable to resist the allure of the mountain west, he moved to Paonia to help preserve and protect the public lands and watersheds of Colorado. In his free time, Patrick enjoys exploring mountain peaks, desert rivers, and everything in between with his wife, Marla, and their tireless lab Jude.

Jake Hartter, Watershed Coordinator
Start Date: 2017

Jake joined the Conservation Center team in March 2017 and is honored to serve as WSCC's watershed coordinator. Jake graduated from Greenville College in 2002 with a B.S. in Environmental Biology. His early work history focused around developing stormwater wetland basins and riparian corridors for improving domestic water quality. He has worked with municipalities, agencies, universities, and private landowners to implement watershed scale habitat management practices. In addition to his work in habitat restoration, Jake has spent nearly 10 years in the geothermal drilling industry, operating heavy equipment and managing small work crews to install energy efficient heating and cooling systems in the midwest. Jake lives in Paonia with the 3 most amazing girls on the planet where they enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, biking and floating, through the incredible vistas of the North Fork Valley.

Karley O'Connor, Community Outreach VISTA
Start Date: 2019

Karley joined the Conservation Center in 2019 as the Community Outreach VISTA. Karley grew up in Saugerties, NY and graduated from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse with a degree in Environmental Studies: Communication & Society. During college, she interned with the Gunnison Ranger District through the Student Conservation Association as an Interpretive Field Ranger. This was her first time in the Rocky Mountains, and knew that she'd be back shortly after. Karley loves to talk social science in relation to the environment, and look at more systematic approaches to problem solving. She's excited to be part of the WSCC team.

In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, smoothie-making, tending to her plants, journaling, and all things water (She's a cancer, if you were curious).


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