Colorado State Publications Blog

Why are Colorado’s Deer Populations Declining?

According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), the state’s current mule deer population of around 450,000 is about 25{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} below their objective. Populations have been declining over the last several decades due to human population growth resulting in habitat loss and vehicle collisions, as well as other factors like climate change, malnutrition, diseases like chronic wasting disease, and predation. A recent technical report from CPW examines the causes of deer mortality, specifically to help wildlife investigators determine the difference between predation and scavenging so that accurate causes of death can be determined and addressed. Since 2016 CPW has been studying whether predator control can help boost mule deer populations. You can read more about this strategy on CPW’s website.

CPW has also recently released The Story of Colorado’s Mule Deer, a short publication for general readers that explores the history of mule deer in Colorado and some of the factors behind the recent population decline. Additional information can be found in Mule Deer in Northwest Colorado, a fact sheet from CPW summarizing their research in that part of the state.

Colorado is not the only western state to experience declining mule deer populations. In 2004 CPW (then the Colorado Division of Wildlife) teamed with other western U.S. wildlife agencies to produce the North American Mule Deer Conservation Plan, which examines a variety of population decline factors including hunting, disease, and habitat loss. A few years prior, the Division of Wildlife also submitted a report to the Colorado legislature on declining mule deer populations. Our library collection includes numerous other resources on Colorado mule deer research; search our library’s online catalog for titles.


Photo by David Hannigan courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Colorado State Publications Blog

Should Wolves be Reintroduced in Colorado?

If wolves were reintroduced in our state, would they benefit the environment or be a nuisance for ranchers? In spite of a 2016 resolution passed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife stating that wolves would not be purposefully reintroduced into the state (although those that wander here on their own won’t be removed), the debate continues.
Andrew Gulliford, a professor if history and environmental studies at Fort Lewis College, is an advocate for reintroduction and recently co-edited a book outlining the science, and the debate, behind the reintroduction of wolves. According to Gulliford’s blog posting for University Press of Colorado — the publisher of his book The Last Stand of the Pack — evidence for wolves’ contribution to the ecology of the mountain west can be seen in Yellowstone:

I teach my college students that wolves brought songbirds back to Yellowstone. I explain that wolves cut the coyote population in half. With fewer coyotes there are more small rodents and mammals aerating the soil and providing better grasses. But the largest and most dramatic effect has been the culling of the Yellowstone elk herd. By 1995 the ungulates had done severe damage to the vegetation of the park. Wolves changed that. As wolf packs began to hunt elk, the wapiti were slowed and caught in downed timber along rivers and streams. So elk learned safety meant higher sagebrush benches where they could see and smell better. With fewer elk, plants recovered. Aspen thrived. And in this new thicker forest of riverine vegetation, beaver colonies established small pools, attracting other animals, insects, and, yes, butterflies.

The State of Colorado has been studying the issue of wolf reintroduction since the 1980s. In our library you can find several reports on the topic, including

The Last Stand of the Pack is also available for checkout from our library. This book was originally issued in 1929 by famed Colorado naturalist Arthur Carhart and Stanley P. Young. Gulliford and the aptly-named Tom Wolf edited the new edition for University Press of Colorado. This expanded edition contains new writings by Gulliford and other contributors who discuss the debate over reintroduction since Carhart’s time.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Summer Ozone and Pollution

Wondering what you can do to help reduce ozone and improve our summer air? The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Regional Air Quality Council have launched a new campaign that can help Coloradans take simple steps toward better summer air. In fact, that’s the name of the campaign and its new website – Check out the website for tips on what you can do. For instance, while “take fewer car trips” might be fairly obvious, there are probably some things that you’re doing that you’re not even aware are affecting our summer ozone. For example, do you know which household products contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs)? Which man-made activities produce the highest levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx)? And what ground-level ozone can do to your health? In addition to learning all about summer ozone, you can also use the website to download interactive tools such as the OzoMeter for logging car trips, and sign up for real-time ozone and air pollution updates.

Want to learn even more about ozone and summer air quality? You can find many helpful resources in our library, including

Items listed above without URLs can be checked out in print from our library or on Prospector. For lots more titles on ozone and air quality, search our library’s online catalog.

Colorado State Publications Blog

What's In Your Drinking Water?

May 6-12, 2018 is National Drinking Water Week.  From lead to fluoride, from private wells to public water systems, there are many consumer issues related to the water you drink.  If you are interested in learning about drinking water in Colorado, start with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s Drinking Water: Consumer Information webpage.  Here you can find links to information about how drinking water is treated, regulated and tested, and what substances can be found in your water.  For more resources, search our library’s online catalog

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Salmonella Outbreak

It’s not a pleasant topic, but it’s certainly an important one for cities and towns to learn from.  Exactly ten years ago, in March and April 2008, the city of Alamosa experienced a deadly Salmonella outbreak that caused at least 442 confirmed illnesses and, according to estimates, as many as 1,300 people – 15{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of Alamosa’s population – may have gotten sick.  One person died.  The cause?  Contaminated drinking water.  “Alamosa’s drinking water comes from deep artesian wells in an aquifer considered to be a protected groundwater source. Prior to the outbreak, the city’s drinking water was not chlorinated for disinfection. A waiver from the statewide requirement for disinfection was granted to Alamosa in 1974,” according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). CDPHE conducted a major cleanup, investigation, and review of the incident and set forth recommendations for strategies that local water systems can use to help reduce the likelihood of waterborne disease outbreaks.  These strategies, along with data and an explanation of the 2008 Alamosa event, can be found in the CDPHE’s report Waterborne Salmonella Outbreak in Alamosa, Colorado, March and April 2008: Outbreak Identification, Response, and Investigation, available online from our library.

Alamosa Water Works. Photo courtesy CDPHE.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Air Quality Data

Each year since 1979 the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has produced an annual Colorado Air Quality Data Report. This report offers detailed data on Colorado air quality, including regional air quality data; pollutants exceeding recommended levels; data on specific pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter; variables such as meteorology; quality assurance procedures; assessment; and more. If you are looking for data on Colorado’s air quality this is the report you need.  Our library has the reports online going back to 2000; reports prior to 2000 can be viewed in or checked out from our library, or requested through Prospector.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Pesticide Safety

This is National Poison Prevention Week, and if you work in the agriculture industry, one of the poisons that you will most frequently encounter is pesticides.  If you are someone who handles or administers pesticides, or are an employer of those who do so, here are some resources from the State of Colorado that provide helpful tips on how to stay safe around pesticides.  Resources listed without web links can be checked out in print from our library or through Prospector.

Our library also has a series of Pesticide Application and Safety Training Study Guides from the Colorado State University Extension and the Colorado Department of AgricultureEach guidebook covers a single subject, such as weeds and insects, and application area, such as forest, rangeland, household, ornamental/garden, aquatic, and agricultural. Search our library’s online catalog for a list of titles.

Colorado State Publications Blog

National Invasive Species Awareness Week

Here in Colorado we have a number of invasive species that are causing problems because they can harm the environment and put native species at risk.  Colorado Parks & Wildlife defines invasive species as “plants, animals, insects or diseases that are not native to Colorado.”  CP&W explains that “because they are not native to Colorado habitats, they have no natural competitors or predators.  Without these checks and balances, the invaders are able to reproduce rapidly and out-compete native species.”
How do these invasive species get here?  They mostly arrive by accident, “hitching a ride” on products being shipped into the state, or from human travel.  But some introductions can be avoided.  For example, bullfrogs, who occur naturally in the eastern and midwestern US but not in Colorado, were introduced here in part as discarded lab animals.  The bullfrogs are a problem, according to CP&W’s species profile, because “bullfrogs eat anything that moves and will fit into their mouths including fishes, frogs, birds, bats, snakes, tarantulas, small mammals, and a variety of invertebrates. They out-compete and eat native amphibian species and are a factor in native species population declines.”  Another example is the piranha, introduced into Colorado waters as unwanted pets.  For more on these and other Colorado wildlife, both native and non-native, check out CP&W’s species profiles page.  For more on the problem of releasing non-native species into the wild, see CP&W’s Don’t Turn it Loose webpage.  Invasive plants such as purple loosestrife have also been introduced intentionally (though likely unknowingly), introduced for use in gardens but quickly reproducing and spreading.  Finally, you can avoid transporting invasive insects by not moving firewood out of affected areas.
As our world becomes more connected invasive species are becoming a greater problem, not just in Colorado but across the nation.  Therefore February 26-March 3 has been set aside as National Invasive Species Awareness Week.
Here are some of the most problematic invasive species in Colorado, and state publications and websites that can help you learn more:
Emerald ash borer:

The emerald ash borer
Field bindweed:

Field bindweed flower
Gypsy moth:

Gypsy month
Japanese beetle:

Japanese beetle
Meadow knapweed:

Meadow knapweed
Mountain pine beetle:

Mountain pine beetle
Purple loosestrife:

Purple loosestrife
Rusty crayfish:

Rusty crayfish

Yellow starthistle:

Yellow starthistle
Zebra and quagga mussels:  

Quagga mussel
For general information on invasive species in Colorado, see the following state publications:

Photo credits:
Colorado Department of Agriculture:  Emerald ash borer, field bindweed, meadow knapweed, purple loosestrife, yellow starthistle
Colorado Parks & Wildlife: Rusty crayfish, waterflea, quagga mussel
Colorado State Forest Service: Gypsy moth
Wikipedia: Japanese beetle, mountain pine beetle

Colorado State Publications Blog

Test Your Home for Radon

January is National Radon Action Month and YOU should test your home for radon.  It doesn’t matter whether you live in an old building or new construction; radon “can enter homes through cracks in the foundation or other openings and can accumulate unless properly mitigated,” says the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE).  The invisible, odorless gas is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers and is responsible for more than 500 lung cancer deaths in our state each year, according to the CDPHE.  You can find everything you need to know at the state’s official radon website,, including where to buy a test kit; how to find a contractor if mitigation is required; the laws concerning radon and real estate transactions; health information and data; mitigation financial assistance for low-income households; and more.  Our library also has many resources that can help you learn about what radon is and why it so important to test your home or other property for radon:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Christmas Tree Recycling

It’s that time of year when the holiday decorations are coming down, and the Colorado State University Extension reminds us that, if you had a live tree, it is now “bedraggled and has probably become a terrible fire hazard. It’s time to get it out of the house. Please don’t just put it out for garbage pickup.” While it depends on your county/municipality, in many cases regular garbage service will not even pick up discarded trees, especially if they are left whole.  In any case, it is better, says the Extension, to recycle them.  Their PlantTalk Colorado website includes tips on Christmas tree recycling, as well as links to Extension fact sheets on mulching and composting.  Start the new year by being as “green” as your tree used to be!

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Uranium Mining

Uranium was discovered in southwestern Colorado in the late nineteenth century.  It comes from carnotite ore, which also produces vanadium.  When these elements were first mined, vanadium was considered to be the more valuable of the two; it was used as an alloy to strengthen steel.  In 1921 the Colorado Geological Survey issued Radium, Uranium, and Vanadium Deposits of Southwestern Colorado, an excellent resource for understanding the early development of the industry prior to the nuclear age.

By the mid-twentieth century, during WWII and especially during the Cold War, uranium was highly sought after by the military for its use in the development of nuclear weapons.  Most of Colorado’s uranium extraction took place in what is known as the Uravan Mineral Belt, located primarily in Montrose and San Miguel counties.  Uranium extraction produced a yellowish substance resembling a cake mix, so the mill towns that developed were nicknamed “yellowcake towns.”  (Check out from our library the book Yellowcake Towns:  Uranium Mining Communities in the American West, published by University Press of Colorado, for more information).  Examples of yellowcake towns in Colorado included Naturita, Nucla, Paradox, Slick Rock, and Uravan.  Uranium has also been mined in other parts of the state as well.

Uranium mining became one of Colorado’s major industries in the Cold War era; according to the Colorado Encyclopedia, 63 million pounds of uranium were produced in the Uravan Mineral Belt between 1948 and 1978.

Eventually, the decades of radium, uranium, and vanadium extraction began taking a toll on the environment.  In 1971 the State published Uranium Wastes and Colorado’s Environment, which exposed many of the problems caused by uranium mining.  Colorado’s Involvement with Uranium Mill Tailings, published in 1976, also explored this issue.  Both reports are available online via our library.

The impact on public health was also a growing concern.  A linkage between uranium mining and the development of cancer in mine workers became apparent, and in 1990 Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.  These health concerns, alongside new environmental regulations and the availability of cheaper uranium from other countries, caused Colorado’s uranium industry to bust.  By the early 2000s, however, development of new radioactive waste disposal facilities caused a resurgence in interest in uranium.  (See Uranium, It’s Hot!! And Back by Popular Demand, part of the Colorado Geological Survey’s Rock Talk series.) 

Further resources on uranium available from our library include:

Colorado State Publications Blog

Ozone Information

Summer is ozone season and the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment’s ozone information page has everything you need to know about protecting your health as well as what you can do to help reduce local ozone levels.  The page also includes a history of ozone in Colorado, with data and a timeline narrative explaining state and federal policies and regulations over the past decade.

Our library has numerous documents on ozone; see our library’s online catalog for a listing of publications.  These include fact sheets, technical support documents, program implementation plans, progress reports, exploratory studies, data, and analysis.

Colorado State Publications Blog

The Buzz on Bees in Colorado

Bees are essential pollinators that ensure our being able to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers — yet bee populations have been decreasing over time.  In response, beekeeping is steadily growing in popularity in Colorado, while many others are gardening with native plants to attract bees.
If you are a beekeeper or are interested in becoming one, or if you are looking for information on the status of bees and beekeeping in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s Apiary Program has a number of resources on their webpage.  Among them are the results of a recent honey bee health survey; the results can be viewed here; see also their recent press release.
The University of Colorado Museum of Natural History also has a number of bee studies available on their website, including The Bees of Colorado; and the Colorado State University Extension has recently issued a booklet Integrated Hive Management for Colorado Beekeepers.
Also be sure to check out Beekeeping in the Intermountain Region and Building a Secure Beehive Enclosure from our library.
Finally, for a historical perspective on Colorado beekeeping, see Report of Experiments in Apiary (1887); Apiary Experiments (1900); Beekeeping in Colorado (1922) and Introduction to Beekeeping (1934).
Photo courtesy 

Colorado State Publications Blog

Colorado Grasslands

On the plains of Colorado, grassland ecosystems provide habitats for many species of plants and animals.  Yet increased human migration and development is causing the disappearance of much of the state’s historic grasslands.  Some, however, have been protected, such as the Pawnee and Comanche National Grasslands, which draw visitors to experience nature and learn about Colorado’s natural habitats.  You can read about grassland species; conservation; tourist information; and much more through state government resources available from our library.  Materials listed without hyperlinks can be checked out in print from our library.

Scientific and conservation publications:

Visitor information:

Photo courtesy USDA/United States Forest Service

Colorado State Publications Blog

Protecting Colorado's Groundwater

Pesticides and chemicals can have an unhealthy effect on groundwater, so the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado State University, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have teamed up “to protect groundwater and the environment from impairment or degredation due to the improper use of agricultural chemicals while allowing their proper and correct use.”

For further information, check out the program’s website, including reports and information on current investigations.  You can also find numerous reports on the topic available from our library, including

Search our library’s web catalog for additional reports.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Public Opinion on Water Quality

This week we’re only going back a decade, to 2007, but a lot has changed in ten years concerning today’s topic.

A decade ago, the State of Colorado’s Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) issued a report entitled Public Opinions on Water Quality Issues, which you can read online courtesy of our library.  The report contained the results of a statewide survey on water and environmental issues.  Recall, however, that in the decade since this report was published we have experienced events such as the Flint, Michigan water crisis, Colorado’s 2013 floods, the 2015 Animas River spill, and increased interest in fracking, all of which may have caused opinions to change.  For instance, according to the 2007 report, just 71{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of Coloradans surveyed reported that “the impact on public health is a very motivating reason to improve water quality.”  Further, 93{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of Coloradans believed their home drinking water was safe. 

How did opinion change over the decade?  In 2014, the WQCD issued a follow-up report that showed some moderately increased concern, although the percentage of respondents who believed their home drinking water to be safe only decreased from 93{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} to 90{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} (remember, the Flint crisis was just beginning in 2014).  However, the 2014 follow-up survey did show that water pollution had replaced air pollution as Coloradans’ top environmental concern.* 

Now, three years have passed since the follow-up survey.  Have recent events caused more concern in Coloradans?  Or have state and local governments’ recent efforts to improve water quality helped to bring back water users’ confidence? We’ll have to stay tuned for the next survey.

For many, many more reports and resources on water quality and other environmental issues in Colorado, search our library’s online catalog

*Survey respondents were asked to rate the following environmental concerns:  water pollution, air pollution, climate change, habitat loss, and threatened/endangered species.  In 2007, air pollution and water pollution were nearly tied, with 35{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} of respondents rating air pollution as the top concern while 34{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5} chose water pollution.  By 2014, the number of respondents rating water pollution as the top concern jumped to 42{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5}, while air pollution trailed in a distant second at 21{66eaadba41c14e7e553ffe7a4ee73fbae213b19704eda0514b3dd79e37e4c0c5}.  The numbers for the other three concerns remained relatively stable.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Medication Take-Back Programs

Beginning this year the State of Colorado has expanded its efforts to encourage consumers to “take back” their unwanted medications.  Take-back programs help the environment by keeping unused pharmaceuticals out of the water supply and the landfills.  Flushing or throwing away medications can harm wildlife and even get into our own drinking water supply.  According to one source, “there is genuine concern that [pharmaceuticals in the environment] could be causing impacts to human health.”  Antibiotics, hormones, and other pharmaceutical compounds have been detected in drinking water across the United States.

So what can you do to help?  If you have medications you no longer need, including expired medications or leftovers from old prescriptions, do not flush them or throw them away.  Instead, bring them to one of Colorado’s many permanent drop-off sites, typically located in drugstores and other convenient sites.  According to a press release from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the state plans to have drop-off locations in every county by the end of 2017.  You can learn more by visiting, a consumer-directed website developed through a partnership between the Colorado Governor’s Office, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, and the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention.  In addition to the information on medication disposal, the site also includes resources on safe use, safe storage, and more.

For further data, see Unused Medication Disposal in Colorado, a report from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Time Machine Tuesday: Leadville Metals Exposure Study

Leadville is one of Colorado’s most historic mountain towns.  Though a small mountain town today, in the 1870s and 1880s Leadville rivaled Denver for the state’s most prestigious city and many millionaires were made through Leadville’s silver mines.  Following the Crash of 1893, most of Leadville’s silver mines were abandoned, although other mining activities such as molybdenum mining did continue in Leadville through the twentieth century.
Because of the sheer volume of mining near Leadville, the entire town is included in the 18-square-mile California Gulch superfund site.  While much of the site has been cleaned up, there is still continual monitoring of the site and cleanup of some areas is still ongoing.  Much of the cleanup work began after the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and federal partners undertook a major study of the area in 1990.
The Leadville Metals Exposure Study, available digitally from our library, reported that “soil surveys done in connection with a remedial investigation of [the site] found elevated levels of lead (Pb), arsenic (As), and Cadmium (Cd) in surface soils in residential areas.  A study of heavy metal exposure to individuals living in Leadville, Colorado is described in this report.”  The report especially focused on the exposure of children to toxic lead.  “Studies have linked lead in the blood of children to lead in dust on children’s hands to lead in floor and sill dust in houses and to lead in the soil outside the children’s houses.”  The study presents detailed data on the lead exposure to humans in Leadville, including comparisons to other places in the United States.
The following year, another study, this one by the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute at Colorado State University, measured the effects of the metal contamination on the water quality in the California Gulch site.  Entitled Fate and Effects of Heavy Metals on the Arkansas River, this publication is also available online from our library.
Twenty-five years later, the site is still undergoing remediation.  The EPA website reports that the “human exposure status” is still “not under control,” although the “contaminated ground water status” has been controlled.  For more documents relating to mining, hazardous waste, and public health, search our library’s online catalog.

The effects of mining are visible in this EPA photo of the California Gulch superfund site.
Colorado State Publications Blog

New Rain Barrel Law Going Into Effect

Starting tomorrow, Colorado residents can now collect rainwater to use on their gardens and lawns.  Previously rain barrels were unlawful in Colorado due to complicated water rights and usage laws.  However, due to the passage of HB16-1005, Coloradans may now store up to 110 gallons of rainwater in up to two rain barrels.  For information and tips on how to collect, store, and use rainwater, see the publications Rainwater Collection in Colorado (new!) and Greywater Reuse and Rainwater Harvesting from the Colorado State University Extension.  Also from our library you can view a 2003 fact sheet from the Division of Water Resources that explains the previous law that outlawed rainwater collection.  Finally, for an analysis of the pros and cons of the law, see the Colorado Legislative Council’s Issue Brief, Rainwater Harvesting in Colorado, which was prepared in 2009 in response to an earlier attempt at legalizing rain barrels.

Colorado State Publications Blog

Protect Yourself from Lead in Water

If you live in an older home, your water pipes may be made of lead, which is associated with significant health risks.  In response to the Flint, Michigan controversy, Denver Water has been testing older homes and replacing lead pipes with copper (see news story).  Other municipalities and water districts also have lead abatement programs and testing; check with your town or city to find out more.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), which has numerous resources on lead abatement, publishes a Lead Services Directory which you can use to find information on your specific county/municipality or to find a professional who can test for or replace lead pipes.

CDPHE also publishes a number of other resources that property owners may find helpful — not only regarding lead in water, but also lead paint, contaminated soil, and other sources of lead.  See their Lead webpage for resources on the topics lead and your health; lead-based paint; lead in drinking water; working with or around lead; and lead waste management.  You can find additional resources by searching the keyword “lead” in our library’s online catalog

Colorado State Publications Blog

Arthur Carhart and the Wilderness Movement

The first decades of the twentieth century were the height of the wilderness movement in the United States.  Following the popularity of Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872, and Frederick Jackson Turner’s 1893 declaration that the American frontier was closed, Americans gained a new interest in protecting wilderness areas, as well as exploring the past through archaeology.  During his presidency, Theodore Roosevelt championed wilderness preservation, and the 1906 Antiquities Act gave presidents the authority to designate national monuments without an act of Congress.  Thomas Patterson, one of Colorado’s US Senators at the time, was among the sponsors of the Antiquities Act.  Many National Parks and Monuments, such as the Grand Canyon, were designated during the 1900s and 1910s, and in 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed the bill creating the National Park Service.

During this time, Arthur Carhart was championing wilderness preservation.  Born in Iowa in 1892, Carhart was hired as a landscape architect with the US Forest Service in 1919.  He was given the assignment of surveying and planning development at Trapper’s Lake, in Colorado’s White River National Forest.  As a result of his survey, Carhart urged the Forest Service to preserve the Trapper’s Lake area for recreational use, rather than develop it.  The Forest Service agreed with his recommendation, and the area was designated to be kept roadless and undeveloped, a state which continues to this day.

That same year Carhart issued a memorandum to forester Aldo Leopold urging that significant and scenic places remain wilderness:  “there is a limit to the mountainous areas of the world, and…there are portions of natural scenic beauty…which of a right should be the property of all people.”  Leopold was inspired by Carhart to do his own part to help protect America’s undeveloped scenic lands.

Although Carhart only worked for the Forest Service for four years, from 1919 to 1923, when he went into private practice as a landscape architect, he left an incredible legacy in advocating for the preservation of wild and scenic lands.  Today Carhart is recognized as one of the fathers of wilderness preservation in the United States.  Arthur Carhart:  Wilderness Prophet, by Tom Wolf, explores the life and legacy of Carhart and his contributions to the wilderness concept in Colorado and the United States.

For additional resources on the wilderness movement, see the following publications from our library collection:

Search our library’s web catalog for additional resources.

The wilderness and national park movement continued throughout the twentieth century with such milestones as the 1964 Wilderness Act.  This year, the National Park Service is celebrating its 100th Birthday — see more on the history of the National Park Service at the NPS website.