American West

I came west for good over thirty years ago, and was completely enthralled with the Front Range, where the Great Plains and Rockies collide west of Denver. I met my wife, Marla in the mountains where we still backpack and climb the fourteeners - 45 of Colorado's 54 14,000 foot peaks to date. When I began telling photographic stories, I looked to the Colorado shortgrass prairie, thinking it was under-served visually and misunderstood, with people saying "there's nothing out there." The prairie seemed like the center of the universe to me, with abundant wildlife where there's good grass, and the ever-present global conservation challenge of keeping remnant grasslands intact. By the time I published Prairie Thunder, The Nature of Colorado's Great Plains book (Skyline Press) in 2007, I determined my focus would be on the American West.

It wasn't a big leap from prairie to sage, and the idea for Sage Spirit, The American West At A Crossroads by Braided River (2015) came from seeing the west getting chopped and fragmented in the early stages of the fracking boom of the early 2000's. I had never seen a Greater Sage-grouse when I visited Audubon Rockies in Laramie to talk about working together on the book idea. We're still working together. Sage-grouse became the focus for their iconic, umbrella species role, and their imperiled status directly tied to sagebrush habitat destruction, mostly for drilling. I'm still telling that evolving and dynamic story, and saddened by the callous, even contemptuous roll back of environmental law for our public lands by the current administration. As grass is to prairie sagebrush is the mosaic that holds the Intermountain West and its wild character together. Protect sagebrush and our public lands.

Today, I'm well into a project about the "Living River" Colorado River watershed for another Braided River book in 2022. The mighty watershed of the Colorado that flows through 40 million of us is stressed by increasing demand for water we don't have, and decreased flow from our high mountain snowpack, an accelerating climate change outcome. I'm compelled to tell this story largely in part because of a deeper understanding of the idea we all live downstream, and we're all part of a watershed community. To know the Living River wherever our rivers flow is to become a river keeper. I took the long way around the barn to tell you that I'm a conservation photographer focused on the American West.