Chris Canaly, Director, San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council
James Eklund, Attorney, Sherman & Howard
Heather Dutton, Manager, San Luis Valley Water Conservation District
Kevin Rein, State Engineer and Director of the Division of Water Resources, Colorado Department of Natural Resources
Greg Brophy, Political Activist and Farmer
Christine (Chris) Canal joined the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) in June 2000 and mobilized key local and regional constituencies to support legislation for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and remained on their Management Plan Advisory Board through 2006. Starting in 1988, Chris worked with the Citizens for San Luis Valley Water to protect the Baca Ranch from a trans-basin water diversion and received congressional recognition for that work. She has voluntarily developed organizational infrastructure for a number of Valley non-profit restoration and conservation organizations. This project fits in with the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council’s mission of protecting and restoring through education, research and advocacy the Upper Rio Grande bioregion. This work compilation not only led to the creation of a national park, a wildlife refuge, expanded Forest Service lands that are now recommended for wilderness designation, but, as of December 2012, the protection of more than half a million acres of land extending south almost to New Mexico. The group’s vision also encompasses health issues and environmental protection. Before moving to the San Luis Valley in 1988, Chris worked as an engineer with CNN Headlines in Atlanta, Georgia and NBC local News in New York City.
James Eklund leads the Water & Natural Resources practice at Sherman & Howard, where he is a strong advocate for smart water infrastructure and a recognized authority on water management in the American West.
In addition to advising and managing Norse Sky Ranch, his family’s Western Colorado ranch (homesteaded in 1888), James works with sovereign governments, multi-state authorities, state agencies, and private interests to deliver critical water infrastructure projects and to design policy regarding water law, natural resources, infrastructure, and environmental protection. He uses his depth of policy-making experience and notable connections with federal, state, and local decision makers to assist clients on a wide variety of matters including environmental, regulatory and legislative issues, and matters involving the use of public-private partnerships.
James served as served as Colorado’s lead negotiator and signatory on the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan and as Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board where he built a reputation as a leader in negotiation and diplomacy. He is recognized for bringing together numerous stakeholders with opposing goals to collaboratively craft binding solutions to common problems. James was the architect of Colorado’s Water Plan, the largest civic engagement process in state history, and served as legal counsel to Colorado’s Governor.
Many many years ago, James attended Stanford University, the University of Denver College of Law, and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Now he teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs, and the University of Denver.
Heather Dutton grew up on a potato and barley farm in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, where she gained a love for the outdoors.
Heather is fortunate to work as the Manager of the San Luis Valley Water Conservancy District. In this role, she manages an augmentation program for domestic, commercial, and municipal wells in five counties of the San Luis Valley. One of the greatest rewards of this position is the opportunity to work with friends in the water community to find creative ways to manage water and natural resources in the Rio Grande Basin. She was also appointed to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in 2017.
Heather previously worked to improve the health of the Rio Grande as the Director of the Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation and the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project. She now serves on the Board of the Colorado Rio Grande Restoration Foundation in addition to the Boards of the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative and the Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team.
Heather earned a Masters of Agriculture and Bachelor of Science Degrees in Natural Resources Management and Rangeland Ecology with a concentration in Restoration Ecology from Colorado State University. She is happiest when exploring the surrounding mountains on foot, bikes, and snowmobiles with her husband, Tanner.
Kevin Rein was appointed to the position of State Engineer and Director of the Division of Water Resources by Governor Hickenlooper on July 13, 2017. Kevin has worked at the Division of Water Resources since 1998 as a Team Leader and Chief of Water Supply, and most recently as the Deputy State Engineer for intrastate water supply and water court matters. Kevin directs the performance of the division’s responsibilities, which include administration of water rights in Colorado, issuing well permits, performing administrative approvals for water use, administering programs that ensure the safety of dams and the safe construction of water wells, and providing information and education resources to the public. Prior to coming to the Division of Water Resources, Kevin worked in utility engineering, business automation consulting, and water resources consulting. Kevin is a native of Colorado and a graduate of Colorado State University.
Greg Brophy is a political activist and fourth generation family farmer from Wray. He served 9 years in the Colorado State Senate and 3 years in the Colorado House. Greg also spent a year as Chief of Staff in the US House of Representatives. Greg is a frequent guest commentator on 9News, Channel 7, KOA and KHOW. Greg is currently farming and consulting. Greg is especially adept at organizing rural, center-right and activist conservatives. He and Angela have been married for thirty two years. They have three kids and five grandchildren.