Matt McKinney

Co-Facilitator, Water & Tribes Initiative, Colorado River Basin / Director, Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy

University of Montana

Matt McKinney

Contact Information

Phone: (406) 459-5166

Research Interests & Background

Matthew is passionate about bringing together people with diverse viewpoints and interests to solve problems and build agreement on issues related to conservation and development. He is also committed to enhancing the collaborative skills of emerging leaders in natural resources policy and advancing knowledge on natural resources policy and collaborative governance through research, demonstration projects, and networks. In 2016 Matthew helped launch the Water & Tribes Initiative | Colorado River Basin, which is designed to enhance tribal capacity to engage in basin-wide policymaking and to foster sustainable water management through collaborative problem-solving. Over the past five years, he has worked with several diverse teams to establish the Tribal Leaders Forum (the only whole-basin forum for tribal leaders in the basin), support universal access to clean water for all tribal communities, enhance knowledge and understanding of the role of tribes in the basin through a series of policy briefs and reports, and convened several meetings, workshops, and conferences to build trust and understanding among the basin’s sovereigns and various stakeholders. Matthew has worked as an environmental mediator for more than 30 years and has had the opportunity to travel throughout the American West, North America, and to many places around the world, including Turkey, India, the Middle East, Australia, and several European countries. He is currently working with several government ministries and conservation organizations in Mongolia to enhance integrated watershed management and planning.

Selected Colorado River Publications & Presentations


Matthew McKinney, Jay Weiner, and Daryl Vigil, “First in Time: The Place of Tribes in Governing the Colorado River System,” in Jason Robison, ed., Cornerstone: A Century of the Colorado River Compact (forthcoming 2022).

Jason Robison, Matthew McKinney & Daryl Vigil, Community in the Colorado River Basin, 57 Idaho L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming 2021).

The Status of Tribal Water Rights in the Colorado River Basin (Water & Tribes Initiative | Colorado River Basin, April 9, 2021).

A Common Vision for the Colorado River System: Toward a Framework for Sustainability (Water & Tribes Initiative | Colorado River Basin, 2020).

Toward a Sense of the Basin: Designing a Collaborative Prcess to Develop the Next Set of Guidelines for the Colorado River System (Water & Tribes Initiative | Colorado River Basin, 2020).

Tribal Water Study: An Overview (Water & Tribes Initiative | Colorado River Basin Initiative, 2019).

The Enduring Role of Tribes in the Colorado River Basin (Water & Tribes Initiative | Colorado River Basin, 2019).