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Public Land Management

Bachelor of Arts

The Public Land Management emphasis is a proactive and solution-driven program focused on equipping you with the knowledge you’ll need to help create and implement policies geared toward protecting public land. With over 2 million acres of public land in Gunnison County, you’ll have abundant opportunities to take your knowledge to forests, trails, recreation areas and beyond to analyze the impact of human use on these areas, while simultaneously promoting methods to encourage sustainable land use.

Program Overview

Help create a sustainable future for the public lands you value.

The Public Land Management emphasis focuses on helping you learn the content and skills necessary for understanding and facilitating sustainable use of public lands. The emphasis will look specifically at management issues through the lens of environmental resilience, understanding how public lands agencies can build upon the land’s adaptive capacity in the face of climate, ecosystem and socioeconomic change.

This engaging and hands-on emphasis will prepare you for a variety of opportunities after graduation, including further education, careers with public lands agencies, careers that engage with private land conservation and conservation advocacy.

An impactful career

The need for adept and informed professionals aiming to protect and manage natural resource use has skyrocketed in recent years, making this field abundant with job opportunities both locally and nationally.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

Program Requirements 

The Public Lands Management emphasis focuses on the content and skills necessary for understanding and facilitating the integration of land, water, energy, wildlife, and human societies; the integration of public and private land decisions; and the integration of the wildland-urban interface to manage diverse stakeholder values and interests toward sustainable and resilient environmental relationships. This emphasis takes advantage of Gunnison County's public lands; tremendous natural resource wealth and thus, tensions among diverse stakeholders concerning the best use of those resources; and numerous government agencies, environmental nonprofits, extractive industries, recreationists, and ranchers all actively negotiating the values of these lands. 

A minimum of 62 credits is required for the Environment & Sustainability Comprehensive Major: Public Land Management Emphasis. 

Public Land Management Emphasis students must take BIOL 151 in place of BIOL 130 and BIOL 135. Public Land Management Students must select MATH 213 in their menu of math courses. 

ENVS 100Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2)3
ENVS 200Writing the Environment3
ENVS 250Environmental Justice3
ENVS 260Introduction to Public Lands Management4
ENVS 301Science of Sustainability and Resilience3
ENVS 350U.S. and Western Environmental Politics3
ENVS 390Environmental Monitoring4
ENVS 400Applied Sustainability3
ENVS 410Environmental Ethics3
ENVS 435Environmental Grant Writing1
ENVS 499Internship in Environmental Studies3
Select two of the following:6
ANTH 377
Cultural Resource Management
BIOL 352
Botany (with laboratory)
BIOL 355
Spring Fungi Rocky Mountains (with laboratory)
BIOL 430
Wildlife Ecology and Management (with laboratory)
BIOL 440
Conservation Biology
BIOL 467
Biology of Fishes
BIOL 470
Fisheries Management (with laboratory)
BIOL 476
Aquatic Ecology (with laboratory)
BIOL 481
Forest Ecology (with laboratory)
ENVS 325
Introduction to Soil Science
HIST 373
History of the National Parks Service
ROE 230
Interpretation of Natural and Cultural History
SOC 259
Introduction to Criminal Justice
Required Supporting Courses
BIOL 151Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory)4
BIOL 301General Ecology3
ECON 215Environmental Economics3
GEOG 340Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3
MATH 213Probability and Statistics3
Select one of the following:3-4
PHYS 125
Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2)
GEOL 101
GEOL 105
Physical Geology (GT-SC2)
and Physical Geology Laboratory (GT-SC1)
Select one of the following:1
HWTR 200
This Is The Headwaters
HWTR 398
Headwaters Conference
Select one of the following:3
ANTH 230
Cultural Anthropology (with laboratory)
ANTH 320
Cultural Ecology
ENG 151
Borderlands: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
POLS 250
Politics of the Environment
POLS 340
Politics of Social Movements
POLS 350
Human Rights
POLS 355
The Global South
POLS 370
Political Economy
PSY 308
Environmental Psychology
PSY 410
Multicultural Psychology
PSY 457
Social Psychology
SOC 150
Environmental Sociology
SOC 168
Social Problems
SOC 340
Social Movements
SOC 380
Social Inequalities
Total Credits62-63

Capstone Course Requirement

The following course in the Environment and Sustainability Major fulfills the capstone course requirement: ENVS 400 Applied Sustainability.

Graduation Requirements

Undergraduate programs require a minimum of 120 semester credits for graduation.  Of those 120 credits, 40 credits must be in upper-division courses (those marked 300 and above).  Fifteen of these 40 upper-division credits must be earned in courses that are part of the standard or comprehensive major program being pursued. 

Students are expected to review all graduation requirements, which can be found in the Western Undergraduate Catalog: Graduation Requirements

Degree Plan

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) 4
ENG 102 Academic Writing (GT-CO1) 3
ENVS 100 Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2) 3
Gen Ed General Education (Area I, II, or III) 3
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
HWTR 398 Headwaters Conference 1
COM 202 Academic Writing and Inquiry (GT-CO2) 3
Elective Elective or minor course 3
Gen Ed General Education (Area I, II, or III) 3
GEOL 101
GEOL 105
or PHYS 125
Physical Geology (GT-SC2)
or Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2)
MATH 213 Probability and Statistics 3
Year Two
Elective Elective or minor course 2-3
ENVS 200 Writing the Environment 3
ENVS 250 Environmental Justice 3
ENVS 260 Introduction to Public Lands Management 4
Gen Ed General Education (Area II) 3
BIOL 301 General Ecology 3
ECON 215 Environmental Economics 3
Gen Ed General Education (Area I or III) 9
Year Three
Elective Elective or minor course 3
Electivechosen from selection of classes on cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, sex, sexuality, and/or class contexts 3
ENVS 301 Science of Sustainability and Resilience 3
ENVS 325 Introduction to Soil Science 4
ENVS 350 U.S. and Western Environmental Politics 3
Elective Elective or minor course 3
ENVS 370 Water Policy and Politics (Recommended ENVS elective) 3
ENVS 390 Environmental Monitoring 4
ENVS 435 Environmental Grant Writing 1
GEOG 340 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems 3
ENVS 499 Internship in Environmental Studies (Recommended but optional) 3
Year Four
Elective Elective or minor course 12
ENVS 410 Environmental Ethics 3
Elective Elective or minor course 9
ENVS 400 Applied Sustainability 3
ENVS 499 Internship in Environmental Studies (if not taken over summer) 3
 Total Credits123-124


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Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 1 for 2022. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.


Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming first-year student or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found below. Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.


Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.


The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming first-year students.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Practical experiences to help strengthen your public lands management knowledge.

Take your education outside of the classroom—build your professional network, enhance your resume and jump-start your career.

  • Research Assistantships: Many professors conduct externally-funded research and are always looking for student help.
  • Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory: Western biologists and students collaborate with the world-renowned research station seven miles north of Crested Butte.
  • Thornton Biology Research Program: Students can receive funding and work with faculty on original research.
  • Tri Beta and The Wildlife Society: Student-run club that helps provide internships such as lynx tracking and watching wildlife.

Outdoor access for all

The Public Lands Management emphasis while challenge you to observe the threats that public lands face while working to create innovative solutions to provide sustainable access to all communities who seek to use these areas.


John C. Hausdoerffer, Ph.D.

Dean, Clark Family School of Environment & Sustainability

Program Facilitator

Lindsay Dolezal

Program Facilitator - Clark Family School

Contact Information



Campus Location

1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81230

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