Sunday, June 21, 2009

Life in Colorado: There's No Other Place Quite Like It

Frequently potential students ask about what it is like to live in Colorado -- what is the environment like, what does the state look like, is the state diverse or just one big collection of ski areas (and snow!).

Earlier this week, I traveled to Gunnison in south central Colorado to meet with Luke Danielson, one of the world's leaders regarding the often vexing issue of sustainable development in mining and oil and gas projects and a good friend of the DU community. On my way to Gunnison from Denver (about a 3.5 hour drive), the views were spectacular and I wanted to share several pictures with you.

The picture directly above was taken about 4 p.m. in the afternoon from near the top of Monarch Pass. The picture is looking towards the north. As you can see, much snow still resides on the top of these mountains (many of which are above 13,000 feet in elevation and perhaps a few over 14,000 feet).

The middle picture was taken about 2 p.m. on my way from Gunnison to Taylor Reservoir (and then on to Denver). The mountains in this picture are obviously a bit lower since there is not much snow. I'm always drawn to wooden fences, and that is what is in the foreground.

The third picture (below) was taken about 6 p.m. 10 miles east of Gunnison. The blue ski, white clouds, and greens and browns of the land illustrate yet another landscape in Colorado.

As you can see, Colorado's lands are a composite of different scenes, and I haven't even included pictures of the high plains in eastern Colorado!

In my mind, Colorado has the best of almost everything -- great blue, clear skies, sunny days, cool nights, snow in the mountains in the winter, hundreds of thousands of acres of forest and park land. What's not to like. And that's the reason that a fairly small (in population) state has grown from 2 million to nearly 5 million in the last 40 years.

With this growth has come the "migration" of many bright and talented individuals to Colorado, and this is clearly the case in the environmental and natural resources sectors. It has always amazed me to find how few of the people I know and deal with regularly actually are Colorado natives! Most of us (including me) are from other parts of the U.S. and the world for that matter.

I have not met one person who has been disappointed about moving to Colorado for study or work or both. People here have a passion for the outdoors and for what a clean and healthful environment means for all of us.

On the other hand, the state's long tradition as an energy provider (first coal, then oil and gas, and now renewables) means that you can always find someone to talk to about the important relationship of meeting society's energy needs in a manner that respects the environment.

Those of us who live here wake up every day and look at our state in amazement. And it is "our" state irrespective of whether one is from Argentina or Florida or Ohio or Oregon or Saudi Arabia.

As the highway signs on the roads into Colorado say, "Welcome to Colorful Colorado!"

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