The shortgrass prairie of Colorado is the state’s largest and most diverse ecosystem, host to over 200 plant and animal species across 27 million acres of land. A 1998 study by The Nature Conservancy showed that this ecosystem faced pressures from the development of Colorado’s highway infrastructure as well as private farm practices. While mitigation and land conservation efforts were already in place, analyses failed to achieve the scale necessary for a comprehensive evaluation that would improve the ecosystem. In 2000, a group of scientists and governmental agencies confirmed this threat and explained that a lack of land conservation had led to the decline of over 100 species, with 33 candidate and “at risk” of extinction. Marie Venner, from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), quickly recognized the opportunity for a conservation partnership that would incorporate disparate interests and rectify the technical deficiencies of piecemeal evaluations. She chose to partner with Edrie Vinson of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Chris Pague from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), representatives of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and landowners of the affected lands. Together they assessed effective conservation of the shortgrass prairie while allowing continued highway infrastructure development and farming.