Meet Sally Ross, CCALT’s New Restoration & Resiliency Program Director

The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) team is growing and we are thrilled to introduce you to our newest team member, Sally Ross! Sally will be working out of CCALT’s Steamboat Office. Read on to learn more about Sally and her new position at CCALT.

Where are you originally from and how did you make your way to Colorado?

I was born and raised in Brevard, North Carolina. It’s a small town in the Appalachian Mountains in the western part of the state. The county I grew up in is 80% national forest and can receive up to 115 inches of rain annually. The biodiversity and the amount of creeks and rivers are astounding.

In college and then after college, I worked seasonally for the US Forest Service on a trail crew and as a backcountry wilderness ranger in the Frank Church Wilderness in Idaho and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana. Eventually I began wildland fire fighting for the USFS, where I met my husband. When he took a job on a hotshot crew in east Tennessee, we moved back to my hometown in North Carolina.

We made our way to Colorado via my old wildland fire crew supervisor, who was directing the forest and fire program for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Colorado. He knew we were eager to get back to the west and let me know of an opening with TNC in the Laramie Foothills area. I applied and got the position.

Sally during her wildland firefighting days.

What’s it like to raise kids in Colorado?

It’s awesome. Growing up, we would take family road trips across country in the summers and camp throughout the west. I love the Appalachians, though I knew I’d want my own kids to have more space and more opportunity to experience places that are less inhabited. Having the ability to view a landscape and not see a building or a person has been incredibly formative in my own life. We want our children to grow up with the same experience.

Tell us about one of your most memorable life experiences.

My parents’ home – my childhood home – borders national forest. There is a hill behind our house that had historically been cleared for grazing, offering a rare expansive view in otherwise thick hardwood timber. I spent lots of late afternoons after school sitting on top of this hill. It wasn’t intentional at the time, but in hindsight these sitting sessions allowed me to sort through my kid problems and offered me a lot of peace. 

Why are you excited to join the CCALT team?

Having work that allows my family and me to more deeply understand where we live, who we live with and how we may contribute to ensure the qualities we value are protected, is such an honor. I’ve worked alongside CCALT in a partnership capacity and have always been very impressed with CCALT’s authenticity and ability to get things done. Selfishly, I am excited to tour different landscapes and get to know the families that have shaped these landscapes.

What is one skill people may not know that you have?

I can walk on my hands. Not as well as I could before I had kids, but I can still get it done.

Favorite holiday tradition?

We are forming new traditions, now that we have two little ones. We attempted to maintain tradition past holiday seasons by hauling them to different parts of the country to visit family. That was like pounding a square peg into a round hole. Maybe when they’re older we’ll try to re-implement these extended family traditions, but for the time being we’re using their age as an excuse to slow things down.

What will your role at CCALT be?

I’ll be helping to build and develop the restoration program. I’ll be working with individuals and community members throughout Colorado to implement restoration that supports long term stewardship goals.