The diplomat ecologist
"I came off the
mountain saying probably the best way to save this place is to
build an observatory ..."
Conrad Istock is a professor of ecology
and evolutionary biology in the U of A's College of Arts and
Sciences. In the mid-1980s, when he chaired his department, the
university asked him to organize an advisory team to study the
ecology of the telescope project.
"The university wanted some
biologists on (its) side. I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. So I
went (to the mountain) with my wife and daughter. We drove right to
the top. We hiked, spent the weekend there. One could see the way
the mountain had been used. It had been heavily logged. There's
something like 100 cabins up there. There's a Bible camp. There's a
lot of hunting, a little fishing. It's been a heavily used natural
area. I came off the mountain saying probably the best way to save
this place is to build an observatory ...
Forest Service's plans for the next century, another 12,000 acres
was going to be (logged in the mountain range) - and that was
brought to a screeching halt in 1987 because of the project ...
People don't know this ...
"It was a mistake for
the university to give the impression (that it was) against the
listing of the squirrel. I said to the administration, "You
shouldn't say those things. Let the process go. Work within the
"There's big science and big money
involved for the university ... (But also) the activity the
astronomers are engaged in is one of the highest-level activities
we have; it's part of the culture of the coming centuries ... I for
one am curious about everything in the cosmos ..." -