Colorado photographer John Fielder visits Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Colorado photographer John Fielder visits Craig

Erin Fenner

— Award-winning Colorado photographer John Fielder stopped in Craig on Thursday to share his photos and a conservationist message.

"Protecting nature and the natural environment is actually good for business," he said. "Ranching and protecting wilderness can go together."

Craig welcomed Fielder at three venues throughout the city.

The Museum of Northwest Colorado presented a gallery of Fielder's photographs, Downtown Books hosted Fielder for a book signing in the afternoon and he made a presentation of his Yampa Valley photographs later in the evening at Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

Fielder is touring Colorado as a way to highlight the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act.

"There is no better way to protect biodiversity than with this particular land management law," he said.

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Fielder said those in agriculture and conservationists should work together toward a common goal. He highlighted T. Wright Dickinson as a leader in cooperative efforts between ranchers and environmentalists.

"I took on the ranching business as one of my projects and I did a whole book called ‘Ranches of Colorado,’" Fielder said. "You have to have a balance between the two."

Dickinson puts up wildlife-friendly fences and leaves the sagebrush only partially cut.

"These are some of the ways in which the conservation community is working with the ranching community," he said.

Melody Villard, Moffat County Tourism Association director, said agriculture is a form of conservation.

“Agriculture is conservation. We’re feeding the same grass to our sheep that we have been for years,” she said. “There’s a lot that goes hand in hand.”

That means that ranchers have to keep an eye on the habitat, water, vegetation and wildlife to make sure everything functions well, she said.

Fielder also discussed his feelings toward traditional energy: that Colorado should be moving toward renewable energy.

Traditional energy “makes a lot of jobs, but frankly, Moffat County has to move on sooner than later," he said.

He said Colorado should focus on "the attractive, not the extractive."

Brandi Meek, Moffat County chairwoman for the Colorado Republican executive committee, challenged those points.

"That should be a decision made by individuals, not by the government," she said.

She also said that attacks toward coal should be directed at China, which has little regulation for the industry, rather than Colorado, which is highly regulated.

Fielder agreed with some of her points.

"We can't just protect Colorado," he said. "We have to protect the whole world."

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@CraigDailyPress.com.