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Caroline Bradford

Lauren Glendenning
photo by Kristin AndersonJim and Caroline Bradford with their daughter, Nellie, at their home in Red Cliff.
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Caroline Bradford is an environmentalist. She’s a mother and a wife first, but the environment, specifically water-quality issues, is her second priority. She’s lived in Eagle County since 1990 after a few years in Beverly Hills and Steamboat Springs. A true mountain girl ” she grew up in the mountains of east Tennessee ” Bradford loves living in the tiny town of Red Cliff and continuously learning about environmental subjects in which she tries to make a difference.

Before I moved here I became interested in a giant road that was being built through the Smoky Mountains. (In the valley), I supported Kim (Langmaid) with marketing and outreach when she started the Gore Range Natural Science School. Then I was with the Eagle River Watershed Council. I advocated for expanded cleanup of the Eagle Mine and to protect the water quality in the Eagle River, mainly because of the sand pollution from CDOT. It was a pretty major accomplishment in both of those areas. CDOT built 58 sediment basins. (CDOT’s) hearts are in the right place, they just didn’t know how to keep the sand out of the river.

A project on the East Slope and West Slope water providers. They all have to figure out a way to provide water for the endangered fish recovery program. I’m working to bring those folks together to provide water for the endangered fish. Where there’s a will there’s a way ” I love projects that have to be successful in the end.

I have felt like I was on a vertical learning curve for about eight years.

It’s interesting, every now and then I whine a little. Sometimes I think, ‘I’m good at a lot of things already, shouldn’t I just stick to those things?’ But I just figure out what I don’t know and figure out who does, and I call them up and ask them. The people on the water boards on East and West Slope are very helpful. There are lots of water education programs available, too. I try to help other people just understand it. … It’s not that complicated. I started this monthly program at the Council called Waterwise Wednesdays. … I’m trying not to take sides other than what’s best for the stream.

It’s not one organization over another; it’s the health of the whole ecosystem.

Back in college (at Georgia State University), they were building this horrible interstate across the mountains. The construction was like leveling the mountains and it was just killing the streams.

And there’s nothing like living in a town (Red Cliff), that didn’t have potable water for two and a half years ” that’ll encourage you to focus on water quality. But I’ve always had an interest in water issues, now it’s just on more of a technical level.

When you work 70 to 80 hours a week and you go down to 30 to 35, you all of a sudden feel like you’re on vacation. You can get burnt out, but I’m not the least bit burnt out now. Working on the endangered fish recovery project has been really rejuvenating that all of these water providers can come together and work on a project, even with the sledgehammer of the Endangered Species Act hanging over them. My interest in providing education programs about the Colorado Basin is my next project.

(My husband and I) always said we wanted to have one child and adopt one. When I couldn’t get pregnant, we switched gears. We started interviewing adoption agencies in May and walked out with (our daughter) Nellie from the hospital six months later. There were a lot of legal formalities. It took about four months to finish all of the home study visits and you have to put together a portfolio about your family and give it to the agency. The process is only as good as the agency you pick.

They’re magical. Anybody who’s ever just stood in the middle of a forest knows that.

I don’t know what the people out there in the Plains do with all that sky.


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