Ellen S. Roberts

Attorney at law


About Ellen


Ellen Roberts is a lawyer in Durango, focusing in the area of natural resources consulting.  Since leaving the Colorado General Assembly at the end of 2016, Ellen now works as a consultant with governmental entities, nonprofits and private foundations on improving Colorado’s forest health and water policy issues. 

Ellen served in the Colorado legislature for 10 years, representing many counties in the southwestern corner of the state.  She served in both the House and the Senate, finishing her last two years as Senate President Pro Tempore. In the legislature, Ellen worked on many natural resources policy issues, including water and forest health, and wrote and sponsored legislation in these areas.  She served as chairwoman of the 2015 Water Resources Review committee and of the 2016 Wildfire Matters Interim committee.

A graduate of the University of Colorado’s School of Law, Ellen received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Early on, Ellen worked in several Western national parks, including Rocky Mountain National Park, and as a ski lift operator in Winter Park in 1981. 

Ellen can be reached at ellen@ellenroberts.com.







Bar Admissions:


United States District Court, District of Colorado


J.D., University of Colorado, 1986, coursework focused on natural resources curriculum.

B.S., Cornell University, College of Agriculture & Life Sciences, 1981, major in Environmental Policy.

Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executives in State & Local Government 3 week resident program, Certificate of Completion, July 2016

Legal & Consulting Experience:

Ellen S. Roberts, LLC, (2017-present), working as a consultant with governmental entities, nonprofits and private foundations on improving Colorado’s forest health and water policy issues.

Trout Raley, special counsel focused on Colorado water law (2017-2019)

Roberts & Steelman, LLC, Durango, Colorado, (2003-2008)

Ellen Stuart Roberts, PC, Durango. (1995-2003)

Also previously worked at several small firms on western slope and for DNA, Navajo Legal Services, as a law clerk.

Legislative Experience:

Served in the Colorado Senate, 2011- 2016, representing Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, Montrose, Ouray, San Juan and San Miguel counties; Held the leadership position of Senate President Pro Tempore, 2015-2016, and chaired the Water Resources Review Committee and the Wildfire Matters Interim Committee (focused on forest health and watershed protection) in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

Served in the Colorado House of Representatives, 2007-2010, representing Archuleta, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan counties.

Current Community and Volunteer Activities:

Fort Lewis College, Board of Trustees - Appointed by the governor to the board of Fort Lewis College, a public liberal arts college located in beautiful Durango, Colorado. Fort Lewis College's mission is to provide an integrated and formative liberal arts and professional education to a diverse student population, including a large Native American student population, preparing global citizens to work in and contribute to a complex world. www.fortlewis.edu

History Colorado, Board of Directors - Appointed by the governor to the board of the governing body of the Colorado State Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and an agency of the State of Colorado, offering public access to the cultural and heritage resources of Colorado.

Club 20 Executive Committee - Club 20, the "voice of Western Slope", is a coalition of individuals, businesses, tribes and local governments in Colorado's 22 western counties. www.club20.org

Rocky Mountain Health Foundation, Board of Directors - Founding member of board of directors for non-profit health foundation whose mission is to improve the health of Coloradans living on the western slope by investing in existing community assets and by acting as a catalyst for new approaches. www.rmhealth.org

6th Judicial District Performance Commission, Commissioner - Appointed by the President of the Colorado State Senate to serve on the Judicial Performance Commission for the 6th Judicial District, including La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan counties in southwest Colorado.

Recent Public Speaking:

"Marketing by More Doing, Less Handwringing" , State of Colorado efforts to improve Forest Products Marketing, Society of American Foresters, CO/WY annual meeting, April, 2018.

"Water Resources Challenges and Opportunities Facing Southwestern Colorado", SGM 2017 Fall Forum series.

"How Water Law is Made Today", American Planners Association 2017 Colorado State Conference.

"Healthy Forests and Districts",  Special District Association of Colorado 2017 annual conference.

"West Slope Water Diplomacy - What Does the Future Hold?", Colorado Foundation for Water Education & Special District Association of Colorado.

 “Suitable Governance in Modern Times - Colorado Water Management”, Colorado Water Congress 2017 annual conference.

“Local Land Use and Water Planning” – Colorado Municipal League 2016 annual conference

International Experience:

International faculty team member of the National Conference of State Legislatures’ International Program, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, to present workshops on legislative effectiveness, governmental transparency and accountability, and constituent relations with provincial parliamentarian legislators and officials in Algeria (2009), South Africa (2011), Mozambique (2013), and India (2015).







The Animas River Community Forum (ARCF) was created in August 2015 after the Gold King Mine spill.  The group serves as a forum for all the sectors involved (e.g. government, business, educators, emergency response, non-profits, coalitions, conservation groups, health groups, etc.) to share information and ideas, and to work together.   ARCF Website

The Colorado Forest Restoration Institute (CFRI), housed in the Department of Forest & Rangeland Stewardship in the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, was chartered in 2005 in response to the 2000 and 2002 wildfire seasons that saw hundreds of thousands of acres of forests burn in high-intensity fires throughout the interior West, Congress enacted the Southwest Forest Health and Wildfire Prevention Act in 2004 to establish institutes in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. Collectively named the Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes, each Institute’s purpose is to develop, synthesize, and apply the best available science to achieve forest restoration and wildfire hazard reduction goals. CFRI Website

Colorado State Forest Service's mission is to achieve stewardship of Colorado’s diverse forest environments for the benefit of present and future generations.They are a service and outreach agency of the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University (CSU).  CSFS Website

 The Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB),  is Colorado’s most comprehensive water information resource,  and was created to provide policy direction on water issues. The CWCB Board is appointed by the Governor and ensures the CWCB fulfills its mission to conserve, develop, protect and manage Colorado’s water for present and future generations. CWCB Website







Ellen welcomes the opportunity to consult with private and governmental entities as well as NGO's on such topics as strategic planning, public engagement and deliberation, and project completion in natural resources issues. 

Ellen honed her skills in these areas in the complicated, and often contentious, legislative and legal worlds and she excels in working collaboratively with others to reach concrete, constructive resolution of complex, multi-stakeholder challenges.


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