- To restore America’s great prairies and grasslands
- To foster the creation of healthy soils and robust vegetative communities
- To organize volunteer efforts to conserve and restore prairie lands
Grasslands Unlimited began humbly in spring of 2014 (when it was called the Colorado Prairie Initiative), when a group of law students, with more passion than nonprofit experience, decided it was time to take action to restore the great prairie ecosystems of the United States.
The purposes of Grasslands Unlimited are to aid the restoration of the grassland and prairie ecosystems across the Great Plains; to protect and conserve native species of wild prairie plants and animals; to make the prairie ecosystem more accessible to the public; to begin the long and difficult task of restoring the grasslands to their former vitality and beauty; and to use all legal means to carry out these objectives.
The mighty grasslands once stretched across the middle of the country, from Mexico to Canada. Home to untold millions of bison, elk, and antelope, the seemingly boundless prairies came to symbolize the intrepid spirit of the new America. But politics and agriculture devastated much of the great plains, as the bison herds were wiped out, cattle were introduced to and overgrazed the rangelands, native grasses were plowed under to make way for crops, and aquifers were depleted to irrigate dry climates not suited for farming. Eventually the Great Depression necessitated the buy back of some of the heartland of America by the government, which led to the creation of the National Grasslands.
But these National Grasslands failed to materialize as the bastion of prairie restoration they could have been. It is beyond debate that the rangelands are in poor condition, and private landowners and not-for-profit organizations have emerged as playing an ever larger role in their recovery.
Grasslands Unlimited exists to aid that recovery effort in the hopes that future generations may be able to enjoy what remains of the American prairies. Perhaps one day the thundering of countless bison hooves will shake the Heartland once again. Prairie life provides the best of what nature has to offer: power, resilience, unspeakable beauty. Let’s ensure we treat it such that future generations will judge us favorably.
Staff/Board of Directors
Founder | President
Trevor is the founder and President of the Colorado Prairie Initiative. After earning a writing degree at Northern Michigan University, he moved to Montana where he worked as a hunting guide in the plains of northeastern Montana. While chasing mule deer and antelope through the sage, Trevor fell in love with the expansive grasslands of the American heartland, and eventually decided to pursue a career in public land law.
While at the University of Colorado, Trevor has participated in environmental student groups and serves as the Executive Editor of the Environmental Law Review, for which he wrote an article about the role of private conservation efforts in prairie restoration. He has worked for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as well as a private law firm. After graduating, Trevor hopes to continue to pursue a career in public lands and natural resources law.
Harmon is an attorney focused on land use law and who also counsels clients in water law, real estate, and civil litigation matters. Before becoming a lawyer, he had two careers: one as a land use, environmental, and community planner in the public and non-profit sectors and another in building and design. As a planner, he directed the update of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s regional plan and served as the head planner for Douglas County, Nevada, updating the county’s master and open space plan documents and drafting numerous ordinances that preserve ranchland while increasing the economic vitality and enhancing the built environment of the Carson Valley’s small towns.
In the construction field, he was both the owner of a design/build firm and a construction manager, in both cases focusing on adaptive reuse and historic preservation projects. Harmon attended law school at the University of Colorado, and while there he interned for a Federal judge, performed pro bono work to protect and preserve the acequia community irrigation systems in southern Colorado, and became a founding CPI Board Member. Harmon serves on the Planning Board for the City of Boulder and, in his spare time, enjoys family life and a seemingly ever-expanding range of outdoor activities.
Meryl has a varied background in natural resource management, outdoor alternative education and veterinary medicine. Growing up in Detroit, she fell in love with the untouched acres of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She attended Northern Michigan University, earning a bachelor’s degree in outdoor recreation leadership and management, with the skills to connect people to the environment that surrounds them.
After graduation, she moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota to work as a veterinary technician. Impressed with the green spaces afforded by the Twin Cities metro area, Meryl interned with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota, combining her love of animals, wildlife management and public health. Traveling to the Dakotas and Montana has reinforced Meryl’s desire to educate others about the conservation of these wild lands. Meryl will be starting veterinary school at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in the fall of 2014. Upon graduation, she hopes to pursue a career with a mixed animal practice or in public health.
Karin P. Sheldon
Karin Sheldon is a lawyer with more than 30 years of experience in natural resources and environmental law, with an emphasis on the protection and management of the federal lands and resources of the American West. She is President of Four Echoes Strategies, a consulting firm that provides policy analysis and strategic advice on Western conservation issues. Karin is also a Senior Fellow of the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy & the Environment at the University of Colorado School of Law, and serves on the Center’s Advisory Council.
From 2007 to 2013, Karin was President of Western Resource Advocates, a regional non-profit environmental organization working to promote clean energy and conserve the West’s land, water, and natural resources. Prior to 2007, Karin was Associate Dean for the Environmental Law Program, Professor of Law, and Director of the Environmental Law Center at Vermont Law School. Before joining the faculty at Vermont Law School, Karin was President of The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C., a staff attorney with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Find (now Earth Justice) in Colorado, a partner in a public interest law firm, and a member of Ralph Nader’s original Public Interest Research Group.
Karin is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Washington School of Law.
Gaddy Bergmann grew up in Denver with a love for nature and animals, and earned his BA in Biology from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He received his MS in Zoology from the University of South Florida, Tampa, where he studied the ecology of an invasive fish in the Florida Everglades.
After returning to Colorado, Gaddy received his PhD in Biology, also from CU Boulder, researching the diet, gut microbiota, and management of American bison in Colorado and other Great Plains states. Gaddy has worked as a researcher, educator, and writer for many years. When he’s not doing any of those, he can be found hanging out with his wife, son, and two dogs.
Field Research Technician
Dayna is a Western Colorado native who grew up exploring all of the outdoor things that it has to offer. I joined the Marine Corps where I was an airframes mechanic on Huey and Cobra helicopters.
After my contract was up she returned to Colorado where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Ecology, Evolution, and Organisms with a minor in exercise science from Colorado Mesa University. She has always enjoyed the outdoors and has had a passion for preserving natural resources for future generations like her daughter who also enjoys the outdoors to include all of the animals from fuzzy to scaly.
Volunteer Restoration Coordinator
Briana is a Conservation Director who focuses on protecting Nebraska’s natural legacy by educating the public, supporting communities, and increasing civic engagement. She was born and raised in Nebraska and has very fond memories of living along the Platte River. Since she was young, she’s had a special place in her heart for wildlife that continues to grow. She holds a Bachelors in Fisheries and Wildlife Management from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
While attending university, she spent a summer in Botswana, Africa researching wildlife while camping in the bush. This experience made her realize more than ever how important it is for humans to learn to coexist with nature. This way of thinking has led her to become a board member for Heron Haven Nature Center, a Nebraska Master Naturalist, and a volunteer with Tri-County Prescribed Burn Association.