Undergraduate Honors Thesis


Reservoir of Resilience: Colorado River Drought Impacts on Sense of Place and Adaptation for Blue Mesa Reservoir Communities Public Deposited

  • Humans who attach a key element of their identities to natural environments and outdoor recreation gravitate towards regions that fulfill those needs. They develop strong attachments to these areas and assign to them feelings, emotions, and beliefs, a phenomenon referred to as “sense of place.” Changes to these areas due to factors such as aridification and environmental degradation can have profound impacts on individuals’ wellbeing, livelihoods, and sociocultural identities, which inform their senses of place.


    The Colorado River Basin faces an ongoing megadrought which began in 2000. Drought impacts people who rely on the river for domestic water; additionally, the communities that have formed around the river’s reservoirs have experienced adverse emotional impacts with declining water levels. This paper examines how prolonged drought has impacted the members of the Blue Mesa Reservoir community near Gunnison, Colorado. Interviews with stakeholders in this community highlighted the importance of understanding the role of sense of place in culture, economy, political dynamics, and adaptation to climate hazards as the community addresses water scarcity and a changing reservoir.

Date Awarded
  • 2023-11-07
Academic Affiliation
Committee Member
Granting Institution
Last Modified
  • 2023-11-08
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