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Renowned nature photographer, environmentalist John Fielder dies and leaves lasting legacy behind

August 13, 2023, 7:34 pm

History Colorado on Sunday issued the following press release on the passing of Colorado photographer John Fielder:

On Friday, August 11, 2023 renowned nature photographer and environmentalist John Fielder (1950-2023) passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family in his home in Summit County, Colorado. Fielder’s stunning photos combined with his passion for preserving nature were critical to the creation and growth of numerous environmental initiatives and programs. 

John Fielder worked tirelessly to promote the protection of Colorado’s ranches, open space, and wildlands during his 40-year career as a nature photographer and book publisher. His photography influenced people and legislation and earned him recognition including the 1993 Sierra Club Ansel Adams Award, in 2011 the Aldo Leopold Foundation’s first Achievement Award ever given to an individual, and in 2017 Colorado Mountain College presented him an Honorary Degree in Sustainability Studies.

He toured the state in 1992 to promote passage of the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund citizen’s initiative, a law redirecting all Colorado lottery profits to protect open space and create new parks and wildlife areas. This led to the creation of GOCO, on whose board he served for its first eight years. To date GOCO has protected 2 million acres while investing $1.3 billion. His photographs of 19 wilderness areas in a book Our Colorado Wilderness Future influenced Congress to pass the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1993.

In 2023 Fielder donated his Colorado photography to History Colorado. The museum is the repository of this collection of more than 7,000 photos distilled from 200,000 made since 1973, and which are now available to the public for personal and commercial use. In addition, History Colorado received important artifacts from his career including photography equipment, published books, various papers, and oral histories about life on the wilderness trail.  Fielder worked directly with History Colorado to curate and open the exhibition at History Colorado Center titled REVEALED: John Fielder’s Favorite Place on July 22, 2023, just weeks before the photographer’s passing. 

Colorado Governor Jared Polis stated, “I am saddened by the loss of John Fielder, who captured Colorado’s iconic beauty during his 50 years as a nature photographer.  His unique talent allowed him to showcase our state to millions and he will be dearly missed. I hope that we can all follow his example to appreciate and care for our outdoor lands.” 

Throughout his career, Fielder published more than 50 books depicting his Colorado photography. He enjoyed teaching photography workshops to adults and children, and presenting slide shows far and wide. From the nuclear submarine USS Colorado to the halls of the Colorado Supreme Court, his prints decorate thousands of walls around the world. John Fielder In Focus, a biography written by Steve Walsh for young people, was published about his life in 2019.

Fielder spent most of his life photographing his beloved adopted state of Colorado yet found time to explore many more places in North America and around the world. He donated thousands of images, books, and prints to non-profit environmental organizations for the promotion and funding of their respective land use protection initiatives. In that same spirit, Fielder requests that donations be made to Sierra Club, Conservation Colorado, Colorado Open Lands, and Save the Colorado. The family will conduct a private memorial service.

Fielder’s collection of photos can be found at HistoryColorado.org.

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