8/17/2017

Safe Routes to School

This month kids are heading back to school, but the weather is still nice -- so why not let them walk or bike to school and get fresh air and exercise?  The Colorado Department of Transportation has a program that encourages just that.  The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program helps schools and communities provide a safe environment for students while also encouraging physical activity:

SRTS programs can improve safety, not just for children, but for the entire community. It provides opportunities for people to increase their physical activity and improve their health. It reduces congestion and pollution around our schools and encourages partnerships.

According to the SRTS website, in 1969 about half of all schoolchildren walked or biked to school; today, 90% are driven by auto or bus.  Accordingly, today's childhood obesity rates are much higher than they were fifty years ago.  The SRTS program is available to help schools and communities in a variety of ways, whether it be to paint crosswalks, hire crossing guards, provide educational programs, or set up groups known as "walking school buses," where large groups of students walk together.

If your school or community is considering partnering in the SRTS program, or you just want to provide education on safe walking and biking, our library has some helpful resources, including

8/15/2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Increasing Farm Production in Wartime

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, ever-increasing numbers of Americans were joining the armed forces.  Whether they were training stateside or had been shipped overseas to fight in Europe or the Pacific, the huge numbers of soldiers, sailors, nurses, and others involved in the war needed to be fed.  Luckily, the United States had millions of acres of farmland to grow crops and livestock to feed the hungry soldiers. 

A USDA poster promoting wartime farm production.
There was one problem, however.  Throughout the 1930s farmers on the Great Plains had suffered through drought, dust storms, and the Depression.  Agricultural production had declined as a result, and many wary farmers were reluctant to increase production.  By 1942, however, rising farm prices and a push by government agencies to encourage farm production helped to reverse this trend.  Among the agencies here in Colorado working to help farmers increase production was the Colorado State Board for Vocational Education.  A forerunner to today's community college system, the Board worked to improve education in vocations and trades.  In 1942 they teamed up with the Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (today's Colorado State University) to offer a Rural War Production Training Program. 

The program offered 20-hour courses designed to help farmers increase the production of specific commodities most needed by the war effort (beef, vegetables, wool, etc.).  The courses also encouraged home vegetable gardening due to shortages of imported foods.  "The main purpose of the war production courses is to discuss with producers ways and means, and to assist them in outlining plans of action, by which the production goal can be reached in the shortest possible time and with the greatest efficiency," wrote the Board in one of their course manuals.  These manuals, which you can read online courtesy of our library, were issued for the course instructors to help them develop syllabi. They included teaching tips, discussion questions, sample course outlines, and suggestions for film strips and reference material.  These manuals offer an interesting look at the teaching methods of the past as well as of the importance of farming during wartime.  The manuals available from our library are:

8/14/2017

Alcohol and Impaired Driving

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), more than 26,000 people are arrested for a DUI each year.  This includes both drunk driving and drugged driving.  CDOT conducts numerous public awareness campaigns as well as their "high visibility enforcement" campaign known as "The Heat is On," which include checkpoints and increased police presence during holiday celebration periods and other times throughout the year when drinking tends to increase.

CDOT's Alcohol and Impaired Driving webpage provides numerous resources including public awareness campaign materials; breathalyzer information; links to alternative transportation sources; statistics; grant information for local agencies; and more.  Here you can also download CDOT's free "R-U Buzzed" app for calculating your BAC.  (If you don't want to download an app, you can also print out CDOT's handy wallet-sized BAC chart.)  "R-U Buzzed" can also connect you with other sources of transportation if you are impaired.



Sample screen for CDOT's R-U-Buzzed app.

8/10/2017

Burrowing Owls

The July/August issue of Colorado Outdoors magazine features burrowing owls.  These fascinating creatures are much different than the tree-dwelling owls most of us are all familiar with.  Burrowing owls, as suggested by their name, are ground dwellers.  Unlike most owls, which live in forested areas, burrowing owls spend the summer on Colorado's eastern plains, where they live in prairie dog towns.

No, the owls don't eat the prairie dogs -- the two species have a symbiotic relationship where the owls reuse and repurpose abandoned holes.  The two species also have common predators -- coyotes, hawks, bobcats, badgers, snakes -- so the owls benefit from the prairie dogs' vocal warning systems.

Burrowing owls also differ from most other owls in that they are diurnal (active during the day) and they are also smaller than most other owl species (and cuter).  The owls mostly feed on insects, particularly grasshoppers and beetles, but they will also sometimes eat mice and small reptiles and amphibians.

Although burrowing owls migrate to Arizona, California, Texas, and northern Mexico in the winter, they are considered a threatened species in Colorado, their summer home, because of the elimination of much of their natural habitat.  Eradication of prairie dogs by humans has had an adverse effect on burrowing owls, illustrating the importance of understanding how Colorado's different wildlife species affect one another.  Recommended Survey Protocol and Actions to Protect Nesting Burrowing Owls When Conducting Prairie Dog Control, a Colorado Division of Wildlife publication available from our library, addresses this issue.

In addition to the above-named resources, you can also find information on burrowing owls in several other Division of Wildlife publications available from our library, including The Little Owls and Conservation Plan for Grassland Species of ColoradoSee also Colorado Parks & Wildlife's species profile for more information and links.

8/08/2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Amache Relocation Center and Colorado's Japanese Americans

In February 1942, during the height of WWII, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, ordering the relocation and internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry.  Many believed that Japanese Americans were loyal to their ancestral home and would be a security risk.  This attitude can be seen in the remarks of Dr. Heber R. Harper, a federal health official in Colorado:  "in Japan...the cause is more closely allied to religion and a unique religious fanaticism.  Whether Nazi Germany or Japan is our great enemy, the morale of the Japanese may be much harder to break than that of the Germans."  Harper's remarks, and others that attest to the attitudes of the times, appear in Civilian and Community Morale Through Understanding and Participation, a report of an assembly held at the Colorado State Capitol just two days prior to the issuance of the President's Executive Order. 

As a result of the order, Japanese Americans were forcibly removed from their homes and sent to ten internment camps set up across sparsely-populated areas of the American West.  One of these ten camps was Amache (officially the Granada Relocation Center) near the town of Granada in extreme southeastern Colorado.  Forced to live in military-style barracks, relocatees faced a difficult life.  Cold in winter and hot in summer, the camps were surrounded by fences and armed guards.  Although children and teenagers were given the opportunity to attend school, most adults had to work in low-paying, labor-intensive jobs.  The government encouraged farming, but due to the arid conditions of the area, this proved difficult. (See Land Types in Eastern Colorado, published in 1944, for a description of farming in the area during that time period).  You can read about life in Amache in this 1964 article from Colorado Magazine.  Other articles about Amache can be found in the Spring 1989, Winter 2005, and Autumn 2007 issues of Colorado Heritage, available for checkout in print from our library.  History Colorado, the publisher of Colorado Heritage, has also produced an online exhibit about Amache.

A 1943 report on public welfare in Colorado, available online from our library, takes a look at the internment's effect on social services in a section called "The Japanese Problem."  However, not everyone in government believed in the Japanese relocation concept.  Colorado's Governor Ralph Carr is remembered as one who stood up for the Japanese. 

Today, very little physical evidence is left of the Amache site, but it has not been forgotten.  Descendants hold an annual pilgrimage to Amache.  The site contains a museum and a cemetery, and visitors can take a driving tour with podcasts to guide them.  Numerous archaeological investigations are being undertaken on the site, and for more than 20 years students at Granada High School have done projects to assist with the preservation of Amache.

Japanese Americans have a long history in Colorado.  To learn their story, check out the book Colorado's Japanese Americans (University Press of Colorado, 2011) from our library. 






Historical photos of Amache/Granada Relocation Center courtesy of Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department.

8/07/2017

August is Children's Eye Health and Safety Month

Back-to-school time is quickly approaching, and if you're a parent, chances are you're thinking a lot about school supplies, clothes, and lunches.  But don't forget about one very important thing your kid needs for the new school year:  good eyesight.  Children's vision can change as they grow, so a child who didn't need glasses one year might need them the next.  Therefore it's important to have your child's vision checked regularly starting at age 3.  The American Optometric Association suggests that parents be on the lookout for the following signs of visual problems in young children:
  • Sitting close to the TV or holding a book too close
  • Squinting
  • Tilting their head
  • Frequently rubbing their eyes
  • Short attention span for the child's age
  • Turning of an eye in or out 
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty with eye-hand-body coordination when playing ball or bike riding
  • Avoiding coloring activities, puzzles and other detailed activities
Many schools also offer vision screenings.  For information, see Guidelines for School Vision Screening Programs from the Colorado Department of Education.  Also, see the Department's Vision webpage.

8/03/2017

Colorado Governors: Edward McCook

Edward Moody McCook served two non-consecutive terms as territorial governor.  Originally from Ohio, McCook had come to Colorado during the 1859 Gold Rush.  He settled in Central City and set up a successful law practice.  He returned east to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War, attaining the rank of Brigadier General.  McCook received his promotion for gallantry at the battle of Chickamauga.  As General he commanded cavalry during Sherman's March to Atlanta, and then moved south through Alabama to Florida, where he accepted the surrender of Florida and served a short time as Military Governor.  It was during McCook's service in the Union Army that he got to know Ulysses Grant.

Following the war, McCook's acquaintance with Grant first earned him the appointment to the post of Territorial Governor of Colorado in 1869, which came after an appointment by President Johnson as U.S. Minister to Hawaii.  Grant removed Colorado Territory's preceding governor, Alexander Cameron Hunt, from office to appoint McCook in his place.  This did nothing to endear McCook to Coloradans, who had generally liked Governor Hunt.  In 1873 citizens put forth a petition to remove the unpopular McCook from office, and he was replaced by Samuel Elbert, son-in-law of former Territorial Governor John Evans.  (For more on the rivalry between McCook and Elbert, see this article from Colorado Magazine). After serving just one year, the popular Elbert was removed from office and McCook was reinstated. 

Despite his lack of popularity, McCook's governorship proved quite productive.  He was instrumental in developing Colorado's public school system, and both the Colorado School of Mines and the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind were created under his watch.  McCook prioritized funding for public schools, and created the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction.  (You can read the Superintendent's biennial reports online courtesy of our library).  W.C. Lothrop was the first person to serve in that position; today it is known as the Commissioner of Education.  McCook also established a Board of Immigration to promote Colorado, and was an early advocate of women's suffrage.

The Colorado State Archives writes that during McCook's second term, "political upheaval, grasshopper infestations that destroyed Colorado crops, and numerous mining disputes created an atmosphere of tension in his administration."  Therefore he was again removed from office, this time after only serving nine months.  During the remainder of his career McCook invested in mining, railroads, and telephones.  He died in Chicago in 1909 and is buried in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio.

8/01/2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Colorado Day

Her gleaming mountains capped with snow,
Rolling plain and high plateau,
Make the land the best I know--
Sunny Colorado!

-- from the poem "Sunny Colorado" by Eugene Parsons

August 1 is Colorado Day, the anniversary of Colorado's statehood (August 1, 1876).  In 1913, the state's Department of Public Instruction (now the Department of Education) issued A Book of Holidays, which included poems, essays, songs, and activities that could be used by teachers -- or anyone -- in commemorating and learning about holidays and anniversaries throughout the year.  Included were the popular holidays we still celebrate, as well as some that are no longer really remembered, such as Susan B. Anthony's Birthday (February 15), Good Roads Day (May 9), and Peace Day (May 18). 

Among the holidays covered in the book is Colorado Day, August 1.  The Colorado Day section includes several poems, such as the one excerpted above; photos of Colorado scenery; "Some Books of Interest on Colorado;" a couple of essays on Colorado tourism; a speech by Robert W. Steele, an early Colorado Territory politician; and "Origin of Some of the Names of the Counties of the State of Colorado."

A Book of Holidays has been digitized by our library.  For more online documents that tell the story of our state, visit our library's digital repository.

7/31/2017

Japanese Beetles

While gardening last weekend I discovered that my trees are being eaten by Japanese beetles; since then, I've spotted them in other parts of town, as well.  Biologists say that 2017 is the worst year yet in Colorado for the invasive pests, which up until a few years ago were only found east of the Mississippi.  According to the Denver Post, Japanese beetles have been munching their way up and down the Front Range from Boulder to Pueblo.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine against the Japanese beetle in 2010, but the spread has continued

Experts say that Japanese beetles, which are most active in July and August, feed on the leaves of over 300 species of plants, but their favorites are beans, linden trees, and rosebushes.  So what can you do to prevent and control Japanese beetles?  Colorado State University entomologist Whitney Cranshaw wrote a helpful fact sheet that describes identification of the beetle as well as techniques and recommended products for control.  Also see the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Japanese Beetle Best Management Strategies and their powerpoint presentation about Japanese beetle.


Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

7/28/2017

1997 Fort Collins Flood

Twenty years ago today a major flood hit Fort Collins.  Heavy rainfall of 3 inches per hour began late in the evening of July 27 and continued throughout the day on the 28th.  Homes were flooded, a train derailed, a gas leak caused an explosion near Prospect Road, and in the end, the flood left five people dead.  The flood also caused major damage to more than a dozen buildings on the Colorado State University Campus, including the Lory Student Center, the Morgan Library, and the Administration Annex.  CSU is recalling the event with a series of articles that include a timeline of the flood, meteorological analysis, videos and slideshows, and personal recollections.

The State Publications Library also has several interesting resources on the 1997 Fort Collins flood, including
The 1997 flood was certainly not the first flood to hit the Fort Collins area, and interestingly, just one year before the flood, the University of Colorado-Boulder's Natural Hazards Center convened a meeting in Fort Collins to address "What We Have Learned Since the Big Thompson Flood," Northern Colorado's worst flood disaster which had hit twenty years before.  The official proceedings from the meeting can be checked out from our library.  Also, following another, smaller flood in June 1992, the City of Fort Collins and the state's Emergency Management Office issued a Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan for Fort Collins, which can also be checked out from our library.


Flood damage at Colorado State University's Morgan Library, July 1997.  Photo courtesy Morgan Library.

7/26/2017

Human-Bear Conflicts

If you've been following local news lately, you've heard that human-bear conflicts are on the rise; according to the Denver Post, at least 34 bears have already been killed in Colorado this summer.  Bear-human conflicts are on the rise as more and more of the bears' native habitat comes under development.  With bears and people living closer together, and with bears' natural food sources disappearing as well, they have learned to forage at homes, dumpsters, even bird feeders.  What can you do to help protect your property from bears, while also helping reduce bear deaths?  Several reports and brochures from Colorado Parks & Wildlife, available from our library, offer helpful information:
Colorado Parks & Wildlife also has produced four helpful "Bear Aware Videos" which you can view on their website.

7/24/2017

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

'Tis the season for fires and floods, and if a disaster threatens your home and family, your furry pals will be affected, too.  According to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), "one of the biggest reasons people return to danger/evacuation zones is to save their pets."  DHSEM and the state's emergency preparedness website, ReadyColorado.com, recently offered some recommendations on helping prepare your pets for an evacuation: 

  • Build a Kit. Just like we should do for ourselves, create a 72-hour preparedness kit for your pet. Make sure they have extra food, water, medications and toys in case you are unable to get to a store or are forced to evacuate on short notice. 

  • Have a Plan. Your plan needs to include how you will transport your animals in an evacuation, possible routes you will take and your destination or sheltering options. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities or animal shelters can care for your animals in an emergency. Have a list of phone numbers readily available.

  • Know Your Neighbors. Meet your neighbors before a disaster strikes and develop a neighborhood plan for pet assistance. If a disaster occurs while you are at work or away from home you may need assistance from a neighbor in reaching your pets.

  • Pets Feel Stress Too. When you are stressed, your pet will feel that stress too and they can act out because of this. Having a plan in place for your pet before an emergency will help lessen the stress for both of you.

For further information, see the publications Providing for Pets During Disasters and Animal Issues in Emergency Management, available from our library.





7/20/2017

Colorado's Budget in Brief

If you're confused or overwhelmed by the enormous state budget, or just need a quick, simple answer to a budget question, Colorado's Joint Budget Committee (JBC) publishes a Budget in Brief booklet each year that is a fast, easy-to-understand summary of the state budget.  The Budget in Brief accompanies the annual Appropriations Report, the much lengthier document issued by the JBC each July.  These two companion publications examine the monies appropriated to Colorado state agencies.  Here in our library we have the Appropriations Report online back to the 1976/77 budget; all issues, from the brand-new 2017/18 edition all the way back to 1962/63, can be checked out in print.  The Budget in Brief is available online and in print back to 1993/94.

7/18/2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Uranium Mining

Uranium was discovered in southwestern Colorado in the late nineteenth century.  It comes from carnotite ore, which also produces vanadium.  When these elements were first mined, vanadium was considered to be the more valuable of the two; it was used as an alloy to strengthen steel.  In 1921 the Colorado Geological Survey issued Radium, Uranium, and Vanadium Deposits of Southwestern Colorado, an excellent resource for understanding the early development of the industry prior to the nuclear age.

By the mid-twentieth century, during WWII and especially during the Cold War, uranium was highly sought after by the military for its use in the development of nuclear weapons.  Most of Colorado's uranium extraction took place in what is known as the Uravan Mineral Belt, located primarily in Montrose and San Miguel counties.  Uranium extraction produced a yellowish substance resembling a cake mix, so the mill towns that developed were nicknamed "yellowcake towns."  (Check out from our library the book Yellowcake Towns:  Uranium Mining Communities in the American West, published by University Press of Colorado, for more information).  Examples of yellowcake towns in Colorado included Naturita, Nucla, Paradox, Slick Rock, and Uravan.  Uranium has also been mined in other parts of the state as well. 

Uranium mining became one of Colorado's major industries in the Cold War era; according to the Colorado Encyclopedia, 63 million pounds of uranium were produced in the Uravan Mineral Belt between 1948 and 1978.

Eventually, the decades of radium, uranium, and vanadium extraction began taking a toll on the environment.  In 1971 the State published Uranium Wastes and Colorado's Environment, which exposed many of the problems caused by uranium mining.  Colorado's Involvement with Uranium Mill Tailings, published in 1976, also explored this issue.  Both reports are available online via our library.

The impact on public health was also a growing concern.  A linkage between uranium mining and the development of cancer in mine workers became apparent, and in 1990 Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.  These health concerns, alongside new environmental regulations and the availability of cheaper uranium from other countries, caused Colorado's uranium industry to bust.  By the early 2000s, however, development of new radioactive waste disposal facilities caused a resurgence in interest in uranium.  (See Uranium, It's Hot!! And Back by Popular Demand, part of the Colorado Geological Survey's Rock Talk series.) 

Further resources on uranium available from our library include:




7/17/2017

Museums and Galleries at Colorado's Universities

Did you know that several Colorado universities have museums and art galleries open to the public?  Whether presenting student and faculty artworks, traveling shows, or natural history collections, Colorado's university museums are worth visiting:

Adams State University, Alamosa:
 Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction:
Colorado School of Mines, Golden:
Colorado State University, Fort Collins:
Colorado State University-Pueblo, Pueblo:
Fort Lewis College, Durango:
Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver:
University of Colorado, Boulder:
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs:
University of Colorado, Denver:
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley:
Western State Colorado University, Gunnison:



7/13/2017

The Architecture of Jacques Benedict

In the first decades of the twentieth century, Victorian architectural styles gave way to newer styles including Beaux Arts and Mediterranean-influenced architecture.  One of the most significant architects in Colorado to embrace these architectural styles was Jules Jacques Benoit Benedict.  Although today he is most remembered for his Denver residential designs (many examples can be found in the Denver Country Club and around Cheesman Park), Benedict's influence extends well beyond his Denver estates.

Jacques Benedict grew up in Chicago and, undoubtedly influenced by the great architects of that city, began practicing there in 1899 before embarking on additional study in Paris, where he attended the famed Ecole de Beaux Arts -- considered to be the finest architectural school in the world.  After returning to the US he practiced in New York for a time, but saw more opportunity in the West so relocated to Denver in 1909.  This was during the height of the City Beautiful Movement in Denver, and among some of Benedict's first projects in this city were libraries (such as the Woodbury Branch Library in North Denver), schools (such as Park Hill Elementary), and park amenities (such as the Washington Park boating pavilion).   He also designed buildings in Boulder, Evergreen, Genesee, Golden, Idaho Springs, Littleton, and Sedalia.  One of his only commercial structures was the elegant Central Bank Building at 15th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver, which was torn down in 1990 amidst much controversy; even Denver's Mayor Peña fought to save it from demolition.

Yet some of Benedict's most intriguing buildings are the ones that were never built.  Can you imagine Denver's City and County Building as a highrise?  Benedict did.  In 1926, when the City announced plans for a new municipal building in Civic Center, Benedict submitted a design for a 35-story Gothic Revival skyscraper clearly influenced by Chicago's famous Tribune Tower.  Although the Denver Post rooted for Benedict's design, Mayor Stapleton and city officials preferred the Neoclassical-style building envisioned by Civic Center Park designer Edward Bennett in 1917.  Stapleton hired a team of forty leading architects to carry out the design, and the new City and County Building was completed in 1932.

Another of Benedict's unbuilt buildings is perhaps better known, because hikers pass its cornerstone every day on their way up Mount Falcon in Jefferson County.  Benedict was hired by visionary John Brisben Walker as architect for a proposed Summer White House for the President.  For a time, Coloradans rallied behind the idea of a Presidential mansion on Mount Falcon; schoolchildren even collected pennies toward funding the construction.  Benedict and Walker fought for the idea for ten years, but it was eventually abandoned, and today only Benedict's cornerstone remains as a reminder.  You can find out more about Benedict's architectural visions in "Architect J. J. B. Benedict And His Magnificent Unbuilt Buildings," by Dan W. Corson, in the Summer 1997 issue of Colorado Heritage.  This issue is available for checkout from our library.  Additionally, History Colorado has a list of Benedict's buildings in their Architects of Colorado database. 




The Denver Post was an enthusiastic supporter of both Benedict's Summer White House (left) and proposed City and County Building (right).


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