The children's garden at Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail.Minturn's Eagle River Park.The Eagle Valley Trail between Avon and Edwards, along the Eagle River. The spray park at Freedom Park in Edwards. Do you know what these places all have in common? They were each built using funds from the state lottery. For 20 years, the Great Outdoors Colorado organization, dubbed GOCO, has used lottery funds to conserve and protect land, open spaces and special places throughout Colorado, including many locations in Eagle County. GOCO funds also have been used for parks, playgrounds, trails and river restoration projects, all in a bid to enhance the quality of life for Colorado residents.
For 18 months in 2010 and 2011, Colorado photographer John Fielder put 35,000 miles on his car criss-crossing the state taking photos of lottery-funded lands. "I want to show Coloradans graphically how lottery has affected all of our lives with these amenities," Fielder said.Fielder also wanted to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), and the photos he took are displayed in his two latest books - a guide book, "Guide to Colorado's Great Outdoors: Lottery-Funded Parks, Trails, Wildlife Areas & Open Spaces," and a picture book, "Colorado's Great Outdoors: Celebrating 20 Years of Lottery-Funded Lands." Fielder visits Walking Mountains Science Center in Avon on Tuesday to talk about the project and show photos from the book, all set to a "pretty cool soundtrack," Fielder said. "We thought it would be fitting for John Fielder to present his awe-inspiring photo showcase for our community to highlight the local projects we all enjoy," said Jason Denhart, director of communications and development for the Eagle Valley Land Trust. The longtime nature photographer will not only sign copies of his new books on Tuesday, but some of his other books and calendars will be for sale, as well. Thirty percent of the proceeds from the event will be donated by Fielder to the Eagle Valley Land Trust for ongoing conservation work in Eagle County.
Fielder himself helped found GOCO and was on the board of directors for eight years back in the '90s. "John Fielder has been at the forefront of the Colorado conservation movement for decades," Denhart said. "His contributions to environmental awareness and habitat conservation, as well as his support of the local land trust community in Colorado, are legendary. "He also spends many hours on the road, travelling to communities throughout Colorado to showcase the natural beauty and exhilarating landscapes found in our state."Three years ago, Fielder went to the GOCO board with his idea. "I beseigned the board to hire me to photograph 1,000 places around Colorado and publish both a guidebook and a picture book," Fielder said. The board agreed, and over the course of 18 months, Fielder visited each of Colorado's 64 counties and nearly every town."All of us have benefitted from the lottery," Fielder said. "I learned a lot ecologically. The more we connect public lands with private lands with state lands, the greater the chance for biodiversity to have integrity."This fall, Fielder climbed back in the driver's seat to promote the books. In total, he'll have visited 40 different places by Dec. 15, when the tour wraps up. "Then, we better get some snow so I can ski the rest of the season," he said. High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or firstname.lastname@example.org.