Colorado’s famed nature photographer John Fielder passes away – The Durango Herald

Colorado’s famed nature photographer John Fielder passes away – The Durango Herald


Dedicated life to preserve, conserve state’s landscapes

Wilderness photographer John Fielder autographs one of his books for Marie Roessler in 2014 at the Powerhouse Science Center in Durango. Fielder died on Aug. 11. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

History Colorado announced Aug. 13 that world-renowned nature photographer and book publisher John Fielder died at his home in Summit County on Aug. 11, leaving more than 7,000 photos in the organization’s archives for the public to enjoy.

The archives are available for personal and commercial use.

Fielder spent 40 years promoting and sharing Colorado’s nature through his photography, which inspired organizations and legislators to protect Colorado’s wild lands, ranches and open space.

He worked relentlessly, publishing more than 50 books that depict Colorado’s land.

According to a news release from History Colorado, he committed his life to preserving nature through his photography, which established environmental initiatives and launched programs to protect Colorado’s landscapes.

Throughout his life he visited Colorado’s 104,984 square miles. He roamed and recorded the state’s desert canyons, waterways, extensive plains and 28 mountain ranges.

Banded Peak Ranch in Colorado’s southern San Juan Mountains has been protected with a conservation easement preventing any development. (Courtesy of John Fielder/The Conservation Fund)

Provided by John Fielder/The Conservation Fund

He donated thousands of prints, images and books to various nonprofit environmental organizations to promote and fund land-use protection initiatives.

In 1992, Fielder toured Colorado to promote the Great Outdoors Colorado Trust Fund citizens initiative, which by law directs Colorado lottery profits to protect open space and create new parks and wildlife areas. This led to Great Outdoors Colorado, where he served on the board for the first eight years. This conservation organization has protected 2 million acres while investing $1.3 billion.

In 1993, Congress passed the Colorado Wilderness Act, which was influenced by “Our Colorado Wilderness Future,” a book in which he covered 19 wilderness regions through his photography.

He achieved many accolades, including the 1993 Sierra Club Ansel Adams Award, the 2011 Aldo Leopold Foundation’s first Achievement Award ever given to an individual and the 2017 Honorary Degree in Sustainability Studies from Colorado Mountain College.

Just before his death, Fielder established and curated his exhibition with History Colorado at the History Colorado Center: “Revealed: John Fielder’s Favorite Place,” on July 22.

On top of the photography he left to the organization, he also donated artifacts from his career that include various papers, published books and oral histories about his life in the wilderness.

More than 33 miles of streams feeding the Navajo River are protected in the conservation easement on southern Colorado’s Banded Peak Ranch. (Courtesy)

His photography can be found at

Before his death, Fielder requested that donations be made to Colorado Open Lands, Conservation Colorado, Save the Colorado and Sierra Club. The family will hold a private memorial service.

The public also can access a 2023 Broadcast-ready prerecorded interview with Fielder. It’s an hourlong interview that explores his inspirations and is available in several video formats and in transcript form.

“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 and work allowed him to showcase our state to millions across the world and he will be dearly missed,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a news release. “My condolences to his family and friends. I hope that we can all follow his example to appreciate and preserve our outdoor lands.”