Fielder presenting slide show in Steamboat

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— Nature photographer John Fielder said he's probably driven on every road in Colorado over the past 30 years, capturing the state's most beautiful open spaces on film.

In a special slide show presentation in Steamboat Springs on Saturday, Fielder will show photos of 65 of his favorite roadside views.

"I'll talk a lot about getting to them and I'll talk about photography techniques," Fielder said.

About a third of the presentation will feature Fielder's photographs from the Elk River Valley, which he said is one of the most beautiful areas in the state.

In fact, Fielder said parts of North Routt County would be the first places he would tell a visitor to Colorado to see.

"I'm just in love with the Elk River area. There is nothing else like it," he said.

Fielder points to the mix of cottonwood and aspen trees and commends the conservation efforts that have protected them.

The Zirkel Wilderness is another of Fielder's favorite places.

"It's one of the most fantastic wildernesses in the world," Fielder said.

The roadside views featured in Fielder's slide show are the subject of his latest book, "John Fielder's Best of Colorado," a guide to views, restaurants, photo tips and other Colorado interests.

Fielder also will discuss the importance of preserving open spaces in Colorado. He will donate 40 percent of the proceeds from books sold at the show to the Western Colorado Congress. The congress is the parent group of the local Yampa Valley Community Alliance, and the slide show is part of the YVCA's annual meeting.

Fielder's interest in being a voice for land conservation and preservation dates back three decades, to when he first started taking photographs of Colorado's open spaces.

He became serious about photography in 1981, when he resigned from his senior management position at a department store to open Westcliffe Publishers as a vehicle to publish his nature photos.

"It was just a matter of turning my hobby into a career. At that time, I was just another unknown nature photographer," said Fielder, explaining why he started the publishing company.

It took 10 years of work before Fielder felt financially comfortable with his photography and publishing career.

He said it wasn't easy, particularly considering he had three children to put through college and didn't want to be "eating peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of my life."

"Once I felt like the publishing company was successful, I was able to dedicate more of my time to giving back to the community. I always felt that would be part of the formula," Fielder said.

Fielder co-authored Amendment 24 in the 2000 election, which called for cities and counties with populations of more than 10,000 to develop growth plans that must be approved by voters. The amendment had strong opposition from real estate and development lobbies and wasn't passed by voters.

Fielder has received the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award and was one of the five appointed members on the first board of Great Outdoors Colorado, which uses Colorado Lottery profits to protect open space and wildlife habitat.

"I became a photographer, not because I was in love with the camera," Fielder said. "It was because I was in love with nature."

Fielder's presentation is at 7 p.m. Saturday at Olympian Hall at Howelsen Hill.

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