Smith joins NWTF conservation team

EDGEFIELD, S.C. — The National Wild Turkey Federation is proud to announce Travis Smith as its new Western water conservation coordinator.

“I am thrilled, grateful and blessed to be a part of the NWTF flock and its rich heritage,” Smith said.

In hiring Smith for a first-of-its-kind position, the NWTF is taking an expanded approach to conservation delivery in the West. The NWTF recognizes the critical nature of water – both quality and quantity – to its forest health projects in Colorado, the headwaters for four of the West’s major rivers. 

Smith’s new role ensures a focus on water through the NWTF’s habitat conservation delivery, partnerships, development and fundraising activities in Colorado and surrounding western states.

Smith has been a strong advocate for Colorado water for more than 40 years, beginning his water career with the Colorado Department of Natural Resources administering the water rights on the Rio Grande from 1978-92. He served as the superintendent for the San Luis Valley Irrigation District from 1992-2017, providing irrigation water for 62,000 acres of highly productive farm ground. One highlight of his tenure includes the development of the Rio Grande Cooperative Project, a $30 million public/private partnership between the Colorado Water Conservation Board, SLV Irrigation District and Colorado Parks and Wildlife for the rehabilitation of two on-stream reservoirs resulting in multiple benefits for agriculture, wildlife, recreation and conservation.

Smith has held other various roles concerning water-centric conservation, including:

  • Member of the Colorado Water Congress for 28 years, currently serving on the CWC Board of Directors addressing Colorado’s water policy issues
  • 2017 CWC Wayne N. Aspinall Colorado Water Leader of the Year
  • Twelve years on the Colorado Water Conservation Board, chairing CWCB from 2007-08 and helping lead the development of the Colorado Water Plan
  • Colorado Inter Basin Compact Committee from 2010-17
  • Member of the Rio Grande Basin Executive Committee and RG Basin Round Table
  • Served as Chairman of the Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team Appointed by the Colorado governor to represent water interests on the Colorado Forest Health Advisory Council
  • Founding board member for the newly established Colorado Forest and Water Alliance

Smith proudly served in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged in 1976. He is a hunter, horseman and outdoorsman, and his top priorities are his faith and his family. He and his wife of 33 years, Maureen, and family continue ranching in the beautiful San Luis Valley of southern Colorado.

About the National Wild Turkey Federation

When the National Wild Turkey Federation was founded in 1973, there were about 1.3 million wild turkeys in North America. After decades of work, that number hit a historic high of almost 7 million turkeys. To succeed, the NWTF stood behind science-based conservation and hunters’ rights. The NWTF Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. initiative is a charge that mobilizes science, fundraising and devoted volunteers to raise $1.2 billion to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential wildlife habitat, recruit at least 1.5 million hunters and open access to 500,000 acres for hunting. For more information, visit