I'm writing to recommend a book on a local environmental subject by a local author.
Thomas Andrews is on the history faculty at CU Boulder. His 2015 book, "Coyote Valley: Deep History in the High Rockies," is an environmental history of the Kawuneeche Valley on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. While the Kawuneeche is outside our county boundaries, RMNP is partly inside Boulder County, and so I justify sharing this book with the BCNA list
Andrews draws on a variety of sources from archeology, geology, oral history, park archives, and natural history to tell the story of the Kawuneeche Valley. The first section focuses on the First Peoples who used the area mainly for summer hunting and fall gathering, and how they were driven out by settlement, disease and slaughter. The second focuses on the miners, homesteaders and conservationists in the valley; and the third focuses on the incorporation of the valley into the national park and the park's management struggles around road-building, water, beavers, elk, beetles, and how to preserve and present the human history of the valley. The constant theme-- and what makes it an environmental history, as I understand that term-- is the relationships of humans and the natural environment within the valley. Andrews argues that going deep into the story of this one small place helps us to understand the natural and human forces that shape our planet on a broader scale.
I found this book very readable and interesting; my favorite parts were about the First Peoples and the Grand Ditch. I gained an enriched view of places I've hiked and camped in the valley and the NeverSummers, and I appreciated the connections to regional history across the West. (The book also invoked fond memories of Joyce Gellhorn's BCNA class on elk, willows and beaver.) There are footnotes if you begin to wonder 'how does he know,' but these are unobtrusive and easily ignored if you don't. I did find several of our local naturalists and geographers cited in the notes, as well as numerous dissertation and thesis studies from CU and CSU (take heart, grad students everywhere! someone someday will read what you wrote).
Boulder Books and the RMNP nature stores are among the discerning booksellers who carry the book (in hardback with an attractive cover photo).