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Rosemary Carroll – Board Profile

Rosemary Carroll was appointed to the UGRWCD Board of Directors in August 2016 representing Division 5, Crested Butte. Her current term expires in June 2023. Rosemary is a Research Professor in the Desert Research Institute’s (DRI) Division of Hydrologic Sciences. She has been a member of the DRI community since 2000 when she was hired as a research hydrologist. Rosemary earned her Master’s and Ph.D. in hydrology at the University of Nevada, Reno. After completing her Master’s degree and joining DRI, Rosemary has primarily worked on surface water and groundwater modeling projects.  Dr. Carroll lives in Mt. Crested Butte and conducts research within the Upper Gunnison watershed from Paradise Divide all the way down to Almont.

Rosemary grew up in Vermont, and during and after college lived as a self-proclaimed “river rat and ski bum” in California.  She met her future husband and Gunnison native, Torrey Carroll, while working as a raft guide in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and moved to Crested Butte in 1990-96. Shortly after moving to the Gunnison Valley, Carroll went back to school at Western Colorado University to build on her undergraduate Physics degree to become a science teacher and found herself taking as many geology classes as she could.  When her professor asked Rosemary what she really loved to do, she answered “study water systems” which eventually led her to study hydrology at the University of Nevada-Reno.  She moved back to Crested Butte in 2006 to raise her children and be closer to family. She found she was in the right place at the right time as the East River near Crested Butte became the hydrology mecca for scientists from around the country. Specifically, Rosemary’s research is part of the Department of Energy funded program through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) that includes collaboration with over 150 scientists and coordination with multiple federal, state and local stakeholder groups.

Rosemary says that the Upper Gunnison watershed serves as a representative watershed for the Upper Colorado River Basin . “The research data and hydrologic modeling that we do in the East River is important to understanding local hydrological dynamics, but it also is broadly representative of many mountain systems in the west and can help the water community understand how water travels down from mountain headwaters to the streams and reservoirs below,” said Rosemary.  “Hopefully, water managers can utilize this data and modeling to better predict streamflow amount and quantity and make decisions to manage and conserve the water during dry periods.”  

“The Colorado River receives nearly 90 percent of its water from the snow-fed mountains of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah,” said Carroll. “And, one-sixth of the world’s population receives its water from mountain watersheds, so it is crucial that we better understand mountain systems and work to conserve and protect them.”

“I really enjoy being on the Board (UGRWCD) and have learned so much from interactions with other Board members,” said Rosemary.  “We are a very diverse group of individuals with different points of view, yet we are able to have kind, respectful discussions about our different opinions and  can reach a consensus on decisions.  Ultimately, we all want to see our river system benefit water users of all types and be protected and conserved for future use.”

Rosemary noted that during her tenure on the Board, she is most proud of the growth she has seen in the District’s grant programming.  “It gives me great joy to be able to award $300,000 for a wide variety of water projects including everything from improving irrigation, to a native plant xeriscaping to a potable water loss study,” said Rosemary.  “I love that the grant program can be a benefit to a small rancher, or a nonprofit group or even a municipality.”

Rosemary also feels that the Watershed Management Program, under the UGRWCD’s umbrella, is a “cutting edge” program where the District has been a leader in the state on collaborating with the science community for more effective watershed management.  In addition, she feels stakeholder’s have provided the scientific community insight into watershed management concerns and offered guidance on what questions scientists should ask.

Rosemary said that although climate change and growing population and development along watershed can seem daunting, she does believe that together scientists and stakeholders can come up with solutions to manage concerns well into the future.

UGRWCD General Manager Sonja Chavez said Rosemary has been such a huge asset to the District Board, especially when it comes to making that connection between science and the development of water management tools. “The information Rosemary brings to each Board meeting about water resource research going on in our basin and throughout the west has been invaluable to the District,” said Sonja. “Not only has she been a huge help in explaining and simplifying data, but she has also provides a tremendous connection between the District and the scientific community.  It is truly rare and we are so fortunate to have a Board member with such extensive knowledge and background in helping us meet the District’s mission.”

In her limited free time, Rosemary cherishes being outdoors on a long run through the wilderness, or hiking up a peak or skiing down a slope.  She also enjoys spending time with her husband and also her two sons when they are home from college.  Rosemary said, “I feel so blessed to live in this paradise and be able to work through my career and the District Board to preserve it!”

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