January 18, 2019 | By:

Episode 15: Nicole Rosmarino on Rewilding The American Serengeti


Nicole Rosmarino, Executive Director, Southern Plains Land Trust. Photo: Sean Boggs for EDF

Nicole Rosmarino, Ph.D. helped found the Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) in 1998 and has served as its Executive Director since 2011. In her work for SPLT, she is striving to create large shortgrass prairie wildlife refuges that emulate the “American Serengeti” that once occurred in the Great Plains.

Thus far, SPLT has protected over 25,000 acres in southeast Colorado, a biodiversity hotspot. One of SPLT’s preserves, Heartland Ranch, is larger than any one of Colorado’s state parks. Nicole received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2002.


Removing barbed wire fence. Photo: Sean Boggs for EDF

Her dissertation focused on the Endangered Species Act and ways in which ecosystem protection and the precautionary principle have factored in the law’s legislative history. Over her career, Nicole worked to enforce the Endangered Species Act, first for the Biodiversity Legal Foundation and subsequently for a decade at WildEarth Guardians.

She has endeavored to protect more than 800 species over the course of her career but now focuses on SPLT’s private landownership approach to protecting the wildlife and plants native to the southern Great Plains.


  • The potential for the American Serengeti to bounce back
  • Black footed ferrets
  • Pronghorn, muledeer, bison
  • Land trusts and their importance in protecting lands that are not covered by federal and state protected lands
  • How democratic and republican administrations have hindered endangered species and how private land trusts can mitigate the whims of federal government to protect species on the brink
  • Bringing back riparian forests and missing species the belong to the Great Plains

Extra Credit: Read Nicole’s article “Bringing Back the American Serengeti

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