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Next 100 Colorado Spotlight - Kara Matsumoto


What do you do for work and how does this work tie into the movement and Next100 CO?


My current work focuses on expanding, restoring, and protecting the National Conservation Lands, which include the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) national monuments, wilderness, wilderness study areas, national conservation areas, wild and scenic rivers, and national historic and scenic trails. As the Public Lands Policy Director at the Conservation Lands Foundation (CLF), I advance policy initiatives to ensure that BLM lands are stewarded appropriately and their unique cultural, ecological, historical, and scenic resources are protected for generations to come. 


My work at CLF is related to Next 100 Colorado’s in both substance and approach. Both CLF and Next 100 Colorado work on Colorado’s public lands, though CLF focuses on Colorado’s BLM lands. Like Next 100 Colorado, CLF is also committed to elevating local, grassroots, and community voices in an inclusive and equitable way. We support over 80 small, grassroots nonprofits across the West, including several in Colorado, to ensure that the voices of those most impacted by federal lands policy decisions are heard in DC. 


What inspired your career in conservation?


I entered college without a strong sense of what I wanted to study; I knew I was curious about a lot of different things, and I knew that I wanted my future career to have a positive impact on the world. For a while, I considered wildlife veterinary medicine, because I loved wildlife watching and science. But I soon discovered that I enjoyed looking at issues from a much broader lens. I remembered a summer program in which I participated, in Sanibel, Florida. That program, focused on marine ecology and environmental philosophy, was my first introduction to the field of environmental science and only strengthened my love of being outside. Studying environmental science in college allowed me to approach problems that I cared deeply about–threats to our natural world–from an interdisciplinary perspective. Having grown up in DC, environmental policy was a natural direction for my career after college. I love working on public lands conservation because it requires a systems-level understanding of how many different issues are interconnected–water, wildlife, culture, recreation, energy generation, history, and science–and because I can help communities connect to and protect the places they love. 


How long have you been a Next 100 Colorado Member?


I first heard about Next 100 Colorado from a former colleague at The Wilderness Society, who encouraged me to apply for Next 100 Colorado’s first-ever mentorship program. I loved the community, support, and mentorship that I found in the program, so I decided to join Next 100 Colorado as an individual member in 2021. Since then, I have been fortunate to lead and facilitate the third cohort of the mentorship program, and I currently serve as the at-large co-chair of Next 100 Colorado. 


What is your favorite outdoor spot in Colorado?


I love scrambling on the Flatirons in Boulder! 


What is your favorite outdoor activity?


There are too many to choose from! I have always been an avid hiker, but since moving to Colorado, I have been learning to mountain bike, backcountry ski, and climb–and I have loved all of them. As a former figure skater, one of my favorite Colorado memories has been skating on alpine lakes.

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