Mapping a vision

  • Salt Dreams, text by William deBuys and photographs by Joan Myers, University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1999. Hardcover: $35. 307 pages.

  Although local environmental groups often know their immediate surroundings in detail, there's a bigger picture available. The State of the Southern Rockies Ecosystem, a report released by the Nederland, Colo.-based Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project, inventories much of three states - Colorado, northern New Mexico and southern Wyoming - that compose an ecoregion, an area with relatively consistent patterns of geology, vegetation and climate.

Using Geographic Information Systems mapping technology, SREP, a nonprofit member organization, located areas critical to the ecoregion's health and biodiversity. The report's maps pinpoint hotspots for urban growth, loss of old-growth forest and endemic species, and overgrazing on public lands; its authors recommend solutions that promote the integrity of the area's native species and their habitat.

The project's director, Doug Shinneman, says the report gives local conservation groups access to the larger picture they may need to make the right decisions, telling them, for instance, if a critical wildlife corridor runs through their area. "People are already using (the report) as a resource," says Shinneman, citing orders from both local environmental groups and government officials.

The 137-page The State of the Southern Rockies costs $40 from the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project at P.O. Box 1182, Nederland, CO 80466 (303/258-0433). It is available for download at

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