The Office of the Vice President for Research recently launched a podcast, State of Research. The podcast showcases research initiatives at Colorado State University from a variety of disciplines. In the inaugural episode, host, Ty Betts, highlighted the Public Lands History Center’s ongoing research partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Now in its second year, the collaboration brings graduate student researchers to Colorado’s state parks. Researchers produce professional-grade historical reports, surveys, maps, and interpretation of the park’s cultural resources. Cultural resources at the park can be buildings, objects, structures, landscapes, and more. Their findings assist land managers with decision-making and stewardship of the state parks’ resources. So far, the PLHC has completed research for Lory State Park, Boyd Lake State Park, and State Forest State Park.

The half-hour podcast features interviews with PLHC Program Manager, Ariel Schnee, and graduate student researcher, Craig Somers. Together, they report on their experience developing this project and the history of resource use in State Forest State Park. As they point out, public lands are not only important ways that Colorado conserves natural resources, but also preserve the past.

In the case of State Forest State Park, the land is far from that of a pristine wilderness. The area has a long history of use that spans prehistoric cultures, historic Native American tribes, European fur-traders and colonizers, as well as Euro-Americans. Americans engaged in mining and commercial timbering on the land as well.

Today, the State Land Board and Colorado Parks and Wildlife manage the land jointly for both recreation and for revenue production, primarily through logging. The balance between resource extraction and conservation has shifted over time as the value of Colorado’s timbering industry declined and recreation became an ever-more important use of Colorado’s public land.

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