Originally from Kansas City, Kansas, Nicole Seltzer (she/her) now lives and works in Oak Creek, Colorado, on Ute lands.
Nicole joined River Network in 2017. She is the Colorado Basin Program Director, where she leads River Network’s efforts to support effective land and water planning in the Western U.S. by strengthening the influence and effectiveness of local coalitions. Prior to joining River Network, Nicole was Executive Director of Water Education Colorado, handled public affairs for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and worked in community relations for the US EPA in New York City. Her experience ranges from production of Colorado’s premiere magazine on water, Headwaters, to leadership development programs to public participation in infrastructure permitting. Nicole has a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas, and Master’s of Science in Water Resources from the University of Vermont, but most importantly she has built deep knowledge of western water issues through almost twenty years working in the trenches of water management alongside her friends and colleagues.
Outside of work, Nicole maintains her connection to rivers. She serves as a Board member to the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District and the Yampa River Fund, and is always ready to spend a week rafting the whitewater rivers of the Colorado River basin. She lives in a place of deep snowfall, so has a big collection of winter boots for all conditions and greatly appreciates her snowblower. Nicole loves the access to the outdoors and strong community of rural western Colorado, but also keeps ties to her urban past through regular travel to far-flung places where she can indulge her fondness for museums and botanical gardens.
Which River Network value most speaks to you?
River Network’s commitment to balance human and ecological needs is fundamental to our success. To me, this means accommodating both society’s need for wild places and sustainably using land and water resources for economically thriving communities. This balance can be difficult and time-consuming to achieve, and many organizations do not have the patience to see it through. River Network’s focus on collaborative planning, inclusive facilitation and replication of successful methods is helping create this balance one community at a time.
If you didn’t work in water or conservation, what would you be doing?
My appreciation for wild spaces extends to my own backyard, where I spend numerous hours planning and maintaining gardens for both my family and the birds and insects that call it home. Doing this at 8,000′ of elevation makes for a short season to enjoy all of my work, but I spend the winter poring over seed catalogs and garden designs. I love helping friends think through their outdoor spaces and how to make them welcoming, functional and full of food for creatures big and small.
How do you think the conservation community can make the biggest impact?
The impacts from a warming climate have upended a century of water, land and river management in the western United States. Decreased snowpack, warming temperatures and falling reservoir levels could create a negative spiral that results in both less water for agriculture and less water for rivers. The conservation community must continue a two-pronged approach that enacts incentive based win-win solutions for farmers and rivers, but also pushes forward policies that require states, local governments and land owners to act in the collective best interest. River Network has an important role to play to help replicate sound approaches at the local, state and national levels.