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The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley

The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley


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The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley explores the rich landscapes and diverse social histories of the San Luis Valley, an impressive mountain valley spanning over 9,000 square miles that crosses the border of south-central Colorado and north-central New Mexico and includes many cultural traditions. Twenty-six expert scholars and educators—including geologists, geographers, biologists, ecologists, linguists, historians, sociologists, and consultants—uncover the natural and cultural history of the region, which serves as home to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the San Juan Mountains, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and the Rio Grande headwaters.
The first section, “The Geology and Ecology of the San Luis Valley,” surveys the geomorphology, hydrology, animal and plant life, conservation, management, and mining of the valley’s varied terrain. The second section, “Human History of the San Luis Valley,” recounts the valley’s human visitation and settlement, from early indigenous life to Spanish exploration to Hispanic and Japanese settlements. This section introduces readers to the region’s wide range of religious identities—Catholic, Latter-day Saint, Buddhist, Jehovah’s Witness, Amish, and Mennonite—and diverse linguistic traditions, including Spanish, English, Dutch, Danish, Japanese, and Mayan. The final section, “Travel Itineraries,” addresses recreation, specifically fly-fishing and rock climbing.
The book provides a comprehensive overview of the endemic flora and fauna, human history of indigenous lifeways, and diverse settlement patterns that have shaped the region. The Geology, Ecology, and Human History of the San Luis Valley will appeal to students and scholars of geology, ecology, environmental history, and cultural history, as well as residents and tourists seeking to know more about this fascinating and integral part of Colorado and New Mexico.
Benjamin Armstrong, Timothy Armstrong, Deacon Aspinwall, Robert Benson, Lorrie Crawford, Kristy Duran, Jeff Elison, Eric Harmon, Devin Jenkins, Bradley G. Johnson, Robert M. Kirkham, Bessie Konishi, Angie Krall, Richard D. Loosbrock, Richard Madole, A. W. Magee, Victoria Martinez, James McCalpin, Mark Mitchell, R. Nathan Pipitone, Andrew Valdez, Rio de la Vista, Damián Vergara Wilson

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781646420414
Publisher: University Press of Colorado
Publication date: 08/24/2020
Edition description: 1
Pages: 518
Sales rank: 729,335
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jared Maxwell Beeton is assistant professor of environment and sustainability at Fort Lewis College. His work has been published in international journals such as Nature and Quaternary Research, as chapters in books such as The Geology of the Ouray/Silverton Area, in regional journals such as The San Luis Valley Historian, and in popular scientific magazines such as EARTH Magazine.
Charles Nicholas Saenz is associate professor of history at Adams State University and president of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. His work has been published in the Bulletin for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies and The San Luis Valley Historian. He has served as an exhibition consultant for History Colorado and appeared on Rocky Mountain PBS.
Benjamin James Waddell is associate professor of sociology, criminology, and borderlands at Fort Lewis College. His work has been published in Sociology of Development, Latin American Research Review, The Social Science Journal, Rural Sociology, Huffington Post, The Conversation, and The Week. More about his work can be found at

Table of Contents

Foreword: "Wherever I Go, The Valley Goes with Me" Ken Salazar ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: The View from Blanca Peak Jared Maxwell Beeton Charles Nicholas Saenz Benjamin James Waddell 3

Part I Geology and Ecology of the San Luis Valley

1 Geologic History of the San Luis Valley Robert M. Kirkham A. W. Magee 9

2 Geomorphology and Climate Change in the San Luis Valley Jared Maxwell Beeton Bradley G. Johnson 58

3 Pleistocene Glaciations and the Evolution of the Great Sand Dunes Rich Madole 81

4 How the National Park Service Uses Science to Understand and Protect the Great Sand Dunes Andrew Valdez 106

5 Seismology and Geologic Hazards in the Greater San Luis Valley James P. McCalpin 136

6 Mines and Money: The Interplay of Ore Deposits, Mining, Environment, and Economics in the San Luis Valley Rob Benson 162

7 Groundwater Resources of Colorado's San Luis Basin Eric J. Harmon 183

8 Vertebrates of the San Luis Valley Timothy Armstrong Benjamin Armstrong 208

9 Plants and Ethnobotany of the San Luis Valley Kristy L. Duran 241

Color Plates 261

10 A Culture of Conservation Rio de la Vista Timothy Armstrong 269

Part II Human History of the San Luis Valley

11 Indigenous Lifeways in the San Luis Valley Mark D. Mitchell Angie Krall 301

12 Colorado's Hispanic Frontier: Spanish Exploration and the Early Settlement of the Conejos and Sangre de Cristo Land Grants Charles Nicholas Saenz 333

13 The Steel Curtain: Railroads and the Making of the San Luis Valley Richard D. Loosbrock 358

14 The Thread of Gaman: Japanese American Settlement in the San Luis Valley Bessie Konishi Lorrie Crawford 369

15 The Political Economy of Discriminatory Lending in the San Luis Valley Benjamin James Waddell Victoria Martinez 393

16 Estas palabras están conmigo: The Spanish Language of the San Luis Valley Damian Vergara Wilson Devin Jenkins 415

Part III Travel Itineraries

17 Fly Fishing in the San Luis Valley Deacon Aspinwall R. Nathan Pipitone 445

18 Rock Climbing in the San Luis Valley: Penitente and Beyond Jeff Elison 466

List of Contributors 477

Index 479

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