5/31/2018

"U" Can Vote in the Primary

The Colorado primaries are coming in June, and for the first time, Unaffiliated voters can vote in primary elections. This is due to Proposition 108, which was passed by the voters in 2016. If you are an Unaffiliated voter, the most important thing to remember is that, although you will be mailed both ballots, you must choose either the Democratic or Republican ballot. If you return both, neither vote will be counted. The Colorado Secretary of State's Office has been working to educate Unaffiliated voters about the new process with their UchooseCO campaign. At uchoose.co.gov you can check your voter registration and read the FAQs about voting in the primary. You can also find out more in this recent press release from the Secretary of State's Office.

One important point to keep in mind is that by voting in the primary, the ballot you choose will not be kept a secret. Your voter record will note - as public record - which party's ballot you returned, as required by SB17-305. This does not, however, mean you will need to vote in that same party's primary in the future, nor does it register you as a member of that party. In future primaries, you are free to choose to vote in the other party's primary if you wish to do so.

Not sure who to vote for? For a complete list of candidates on the 2018 primary ballot, click here. This list includes links to the candidates' websites where you can learn more about them. To find out which House and Senate districts you live in, go to the General Assembly's Find My Legislator page.


5/29/2018

Time Machine Tuesday: "Mineral and Water Resources of Colorado," 1968

Fifty years ago Colorado's two U.S. Senators, Gordon Allott and Peter Dominick, requested the State of Colorado and the U.S. Geological Survey to publish Mineral and Water Resources of Colorado"The importance of both of these vital resources to the economic well-being of Colorado cannot be overestimated," Allott wrote in the report's foreword.  "I requested its preparation for the purpose of making the significant data concerning Colorado's mineral and water resources widely available to all." Today, the report continues to be available to all, since it can now be read in digital format courtesy of our library.

Colorado Governor John Love, another sponsor of the report, wrote that "In offering this report to the citizens of Colorado, it is hoped that the report will be used as a quick reference for reliable information, and encourage greater development of our mineral and water resources." This fervor for development of natural resources was challenged during the next few years as the environmental movement took hold. Candidates sensitive to environmental issues defeated both Allott and Dominick in the early 1970s.

A half a century later the report, prepared in cooperation by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Colorado Mining Industrial Development Board, and the Colorado Water Conservation Board remains a valuable reference listing out the natural resources of Colorado - the state's geology and topography; the types of minerals that exist in the state; a history of oil and gas exploration; and more. The report is also an important primary source document regarding the history of natural resource development in Colorado. For numerous other documents on the history of Colorado's natural resources, their development, and their conservation, search our library's online catalog.



  

5/24/2018

Chronic Wasting Disease in Wildlife

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a disease of the brain that affects deer, elk, and moose and may be on the rise in our state.  Colorado Parks and Wildlife has recently convened a new advisory group to deal with the disease, which results show to affect as many as 16% of the animals tested.  To learn more about what CWD is, how to test for it, and what the State is doing to combat it, visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Chronic Wasting Disease webpage.  Our library also has some helpful publications about CWD:


Photo by David Hannigan courtesy of Colorado Parks & Wildlife

5/22/2018

Time Machine Tuesday: Biodiversity

Did you know that today, May 22, is International Day for Biological Diversity? Biological diversity - usually shortened to "biodiversity" - refers to the variety of species and natural processes in an ecosystem.  As habitats are reduced by development and increased human habitation, some species of plants and animals are pushed out or become endangered, reducing a particular ecosystem's natural biodiversity.

Biodiversity first became a buzzword in the early 1990s (in fact, this year is the 25th anniversary of the May 22 commemoration).  You may recall that was the time of heightened awareness about the destruction of rainforests and other natural landscapes.  Here in the US, over the course of the twentieth century our country shifted dramatically from mainly rural/agrarian to predominantly urban/suburban, bringing with it the awareness of the loss of many natural habitats for plants and wildlife.

In 1993 the Colorado Division of Wildlife published Biodiversity: The Big Picture, an illustrated publication for all ages meant to teach Coloradans about the variety of species in our state and what people can do to protect them.  This publication is part of the Division of Wildlife's "Colorado's Wildlife Company" series, which have all been digitized and made available online by our library.

Also in the early '90s the University of Colorado Law School's Natural Resources Law Center issued several publications about biodiversity and the legal protections available for natural resources conservation.  Titles include Conserving Biodiversity on Private Lands (1995) as well as a policy report about the US Forest Service's biodiversity sustainability efforts (1996). 

Also during this period, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program (CNHP), established in 1979 under the name "Colorado Natural Features Inventory," changed its name and moved to its present home at Colorado State University in 1992-1994. Soon after, the Program began producing numerous publications on biodiversity across Colorado. "Biological inventory," "biological survey," and "assessment of critical biological resources" reports for counties, wetlands, conservation areas, and other natural areas across Colorado have been issued.  You can view over 250 of these reports, from 1993 to the present, in our digital repository.

Biodiversity awareness efforts didn't end in the '90s; they are still going on today. The Colorado Division of Wildlife (now known as Colorado Parks & Wildlife) and CNHP have continued to publish resources about the state's biodiversity, including CNHP's A Biodiversity Scorecard for Colorado (2008) and the Division of Wildlife's Wild Colorado: Crossroads of Biodiversity (2003).



Photo by David Hannigan courtesy of Colorado Parks & Wildlife

5/21/2018

May is Historic Preservation Month

All this month communities across the nation are celebrating their unique places and stories. What events are happening in Colorado? Check out History Colorado's list of Preservation Month events, including tours, lectures, festivals, workshops, and more.


Our library receives lots of questions about historic preservation in Colorado. Some of the most frequently asked questions include:

Q: I'm thinking of purchasing a specific property. How do I know if it is designated historic? or How do I designate my property as historic?
A: Check History Colorado's listings of state and national register properties.  This site also includes information on how to nominate properties. Properties can also be designated as local landmarks -- check with your county or municipality's planning office.

Q: How do I apply for historic preservation tax credits for my property?
A: See this publication from the Department of Revenue as well as this page from History Colorado.

Q: How do I apply for grants to restore my property?
A: Click here to learn about the State Historical Fund, a competitive grant program available to owners of designated historic properties.

Q: What are some of the economic benefits of designating structures as historic?
A: In addition to the resources listed above regarding tax credits and grants, see also History Colorado's 2017 publication Preservation for a Changing Colorado: The Benefits of Historic Preservation. Owners of commercial properties in small towns should also check out the Department of Local Affairs' Colorado Main Street Program.


To learn more about historic preservation in Colorado, and to access additional publications, see our library's historic preservation subject research guide.



Photo: Main Street, Silverton, Colorado. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

5/17/2018

Dual and Concurrent Enrollment

The Colorado Department of Higher Education (CDHE) recently released its annual report on concurrent enrollment for the 2016-17 academic year.  The report shows that nearly a third of 11th and 12th graders participate in dual/concurrent enrollment programs, which allow them to earn college credit while still in high school, with the courses also counting towards their high school graduation.  (For an explanation of the differences between concurrent, dual, and ASCENT enrollment, see this fact sheet.)  Credits earned are generally transferable.

You can find the annual reports back to 2010 on our library's website.  Visit the CDHE site for more information about dual/concurrent enrollment in Colorado. You can also find information about concurrent enrollment from the college or university of your choice:

5/15/2018

Time Machine Tuesday: Native American Rock Art

Petroglyphs in Mesa Verde National Park.
If you are exploring the rural areas of western Colorado you may see some examples of rock art created by prehistoric cultures.  According to the Colorado Historical Society's 1984 publication Northwest Colorado Prehistoric Context,  "rock art sites are of two types: pictograph and petroglyphs.  Rock art panels can range in size from a small single figure or motif to very large panels consisting of dozens of figures. Both pictographs and petroglyphs can be found on the same panel. Representations can range from realistic to highly stylized." Pictographs are painted onto stone using natural pigments; usually they only survive in caves or other areas where they are protected from the elements. Petroglyphs, on the other hand, are scratched or carved into the stone.

One of the most famous collections of rock art in Colorado is the Shavano Valley near Montrose, which was inhabited as early as 1000 BC. The site features twenty-six panels of prehistoric rock art. Shavano Valley was inhabited by Ute Indians until about 1900 so it contains some more recent examples of rock art as well, along with many other archaeological finds from nearly three thousand years of habitation.

Another site with many examples of rock art is Dinosaur National Monument in northwestern Colorado.  In 1964-65 a team from the University of Colorado conducted a major archaeological excavation on the site, which spanned the Colorado-Utah border.  Their report, published by the University in 1970, is available to read online.

Rock art has also been found in the San Juans.  In 1922, a team of archaeologists excavated there and reported their findings in "Further Archaeological Research in the Northeastern San Juan Basin of Colorado, During the Summer of 1922," a two-part series in v.1, n.1 and v.1, n.2 of the Colorado Historical Society's Colorado Magazine, now available online.  

Conejos County in southwestern Colorado also has examples of petroglyphs.  See the Colorado Historical Society's An Archaeological Inventory in the Pike's Stockade Area, Conejos County, Colorado (2007) for information on some of the rock art discovered in this region. See also the Colorado Historical Society's Southwest Colorado Prehistoric Context publication.

A few isolated examples of rock art have also been found on the other side of the state, in southeastern Colorado. A 1930 archaeological survey of this part of the state "found only some thirteen sites with petroglyphs, as in most of the territory explored, fields, prairie, sand dunes, etc., there was no means for the Indians to produce pictographs on rocks." An article on their findings can be found in the January 1931 issue of Colorado Magazine.

For general information on Native American rock art in Colorado, including the methods archaeologists use to classify the art by cultures and periods, see the Colorado Encyclopedia's article "Rock Art of Colorado."  For a historical perspective on Colorado's earliest peoples see the chapter "Ancient Inhabitants" in the Colorado Historical Society's 1927 History of Colorado, which has been digitized by our library.  Our collection also contains some helpful resources available for checkout in hard copy, including
  • Archaeological Survey Along State Highway 139, Loma to Douglas Pass, published in 1986 by the Colorado Department of Highways, which contains an article about rock art.
  • In the Shadow of the Rocks: Archaeology of the Chimney Rock District in Southern Colorado (University Press of Colorado, 1993).
  • A Profile of the Cultural Resources of Colorado (Colorado Historical Society, 1996)
  • Colorado Plateau Country Historic Context (Colorado Historical Society, 1984)
  • Dinosaur National Monument Multiple Property Listing (Colorado Historical Society, 1986)
  • The Western San Juan Mountains: Their Geology, Ecology, and Human History (University Press of Colorado, 1996)
  • The Anasazi of Mesa Verde and the Four Corners (University Press of Colorado, 1996)

Want to see some rock art?  Many archaeological sites are not publicized in order to protect the artifacts; however, there are some places you can go to see rock art including Mesa Verde; the Canyon Pintado Rock Art Historic District near Rangely; and Vogel Canyon Petroglyphs near La Junta.  For information on these and other locations see History Colorado's Public Archaeology list.

Finally, if you are an archaeologist, or if you are a landowner with rock art on your property, be sure and read Recording and Caring for Rock Art from the Colorado Office of Archaeology & Historic Preservation.


Photo courtesy Wikimedia

5/14/2018

Bears and Bird Feeders

Many Coloradans enjoy feeding birds, especially this time of year when hummingbirds are returning to the area.  But bird feeders can also attract hungry bears.  According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), "some studies show that over 80 percent of human-bear conflicts can be traced back to the bear's first encounter with a bird feeder...Once bears discover bird feeders, they'll often visit every home in an area looking for more."  For tips on how to safely feed birds while discouraging visits from bears, see CPW's publication Attracting Birds, Not Bears.

For additional CPW resources on avoiding human-bear conflicts, see the following resources:

5/10/2018

What's In Your Drinking Water?

May 6-12, 2018 is National Drinking Water Week.  From lead to fluoride, from private wells to public water systems, there are many consumer issues related to the water you drink.  If you are interested in learning about drinking water in Colorado, start with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's Drinking Water: Consumer Information webpage.  Here you can find links to information about how drinking water is treated, regulated and tested, and what substances can be found in your water.  For more resources, search our library's online catalog


5/08/2018

Time Machine Tuesday: Teaching In Colorado

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day, a day for thanking the educators who made differences in our lives and for appreciating the hard work they put into it!  With new technologies and other cultural changes, teaching is quite different today from what it was a century ago.  Yet one thing hasn't changed...teachers' dedication and desire to see their students succeed.

For a fascinating insight into the teaching profession a century ago, take a look at the Colorado State Course of Study in Education handbooks, which have been digitized by our library.  These handbooks were issued by the state Superintendent of Public Instruction (today's Department of Education) and given to all school districts in the state.  They include tips for teachers about ethics, professional growth, community relations, etc., but their main content is the grade-level curricula.  Here is outlined in detail exactly what lessons were suggested to be taught in each subject at each grade level, from kindergarten through high school.  It is quite fascinating to see what the students were learning and at what age -- some of it may surprise you.  Comparing the books also gives an interesting look at how the profession, and curriculum, changed over time.  We have Course of Study books available digitally for the following years:
Check our library's online catalog for other resources on Colorado teachers and school curricula through the years.

Finally, for a historical look at some of Colorado's best teachers, view the Colorado Department of Education's list of Colorado Teachers of the Year from 1963 to the present.

5/07/2018

Rattlesnakes are Back - Be Cautious

This is the time of year when many Coloradans are looking forward to getting back out on the hiking trails.  It's also the time of year when rattlesnakes are emerging from hibernation, increasing your chances of encountering rattlesnakes.  In fact, news reports indicate that two hikers have already been bitten by rattlesnakes in Colorado this spring. (Both survived).  If you are hiking with dogs, be especially careful because curious dogs will often explore beyond the trail and might rouse a snake from its nest.

Colorado is home to three kinds of rattlesnakes, the Prairie Rattlesnake, the Western Rattlesnake, and the Massasauga Rattlesnake. Check out the following resources to learn more about Colorado's rattlers, including tips for avoiding them and what to do if you do encounter a rattlesnake:

5/03/2018

Open Educational Resources

Good news for students and professors! On Monday Gov. Hickenlooper signed HB18-1331, a bi-partisan bill that encourages "expanding the use of open educational resources at public institutions of higher education."  Open educational resources, or OERs, are "high-quality teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits free use or repurposing by others and...[are] available to students for free or very low cost."

OERs have gained popularity due to both the rising costs of textbooks and to professors' desires to adapt and create content for their classes using a variety of mediums, such as streaming videos, software, online course modules, etc. The expanded use of OERs not only helps students save money on textbooks, but may help them academically, too -- "research...indicates that, because of the cost of textbooks and other materials, students often do not buy [them], resulting in poor academic performance...Other studies indicate that students take fewer courses or drop courses because of the cost of textbooks and materials, extending the time to graduation," according to the bill's Legislative Declaration.

So what are those studies that the bill is referring to?  During last year's legislative session, SB17-258 created the Open Educational Resources Council, which included representatives from higher education institutions and academic libraries across the state. The council issued their Report to the Joint Budget Committee in November 2017. This report cites the studies used to develop the reasoning for the new legislation. The bill signed this week continues the OER Council until at least 2021. It also provides for a new grant program "to support the creation and use" of OERs in Colorado public colleges and universities, helping save students money and giving teachers new options.

5/01/2018

Time Machine Tuesday: In Search of the "Climate Cure"

Today we often think of early settlers coming to Colorado seeking wealth, but in fact, just as many -- if not more -- were seeking health.  Respiratory diseases, especially tuberculosis, were widespread in America and Europe in the nineteenth century. At that time, medical professionals did not understand that tuberculosis was communicable. Instead, they believed that Colorado's dry, fresh mountain air could cure the disease, and as a result, thousands emigrated to the state in search of the "climate cure." According to an article in the Colorado Encyclopedia, "Although scientists discovered Mycobacterium tuberculosis – tuberculosis’s disease-causing agent – in the 1880s, doctors struggled to explain why and how it spread." It wasn't until the 1940s that antibiotics were developed for the treatment of the disease, and Colorado's own Dr. Florence Sabin was among the country's most influential tuberculosis researchers. (For data on tuberculosis in the 1940s and '50s, see my previous Time Machine Tuesday post).

Colorado health reports from the 1870s, now available online from our library, offer a fascinating look at the extent of the medical professions' knowledge about tuberculosis before it was understood or extensively researched.  The report of the State Board of Health from 1876 -- the year Colorado became a state -- is particularly interesting because it contains a lengthy essay discussing forty-four cases of tuberculosis, or "pulmonary consumption" as it was then called. The case studies provide a wealth of historical information on the disease, its characteristics, and the people it affected. Also included in the 1876 report were essays on climate's influence on asthma, another respiratory disease; the healing benefits of Colorado's mineral hot springs; and an article entitled "Altitude: Its Influence on Health," all highlighting Colorado's perceived role as a health destination for sufferers of respiratory diseases and other ailments. These essays offer an insightful look at the state of medical knowledge and practice in the late nineteenth century.

Before antibiotics, doctors thought that fresh air could cure tuberculosis, so sanatoriums like the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society (JCRS) on West Colfax were established where patients could spend much of their time convalescing outdoors. Photo courtesy Denver Public Library Western History & Genealogy Department.

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