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Sheep Mountain

Paradox Valley

By Garth Lenz

Just west of Telluride, lies the Paradox Valley, a broad agricultural valley bordered by farms, ranches, red rock canyons, and rivers. Abandoned mines, ghost towns evacuated due to radioactive poisoning, elevated cancer rates, and radioactive tailings for which there is no long term solution dot the landscape, bearing witness to the failed legacy of uranium mining. Ironically, it is here that America’s first uranium mill and new mines in twenty-five years are proposed. The impacts of these developments would be felt not just in the Paradox Valley, but throughout the Western Slope where radioactive dust will fall, threatening the air, water, and agricultural land which are the life blood of the region.  As part of a workshop taught by Garth Lenz at the Telluride Photo Festival, four passionate and committed photographers spent an intense three days in the region to bring their message of respect, concern, and stewardship for the people and land threatened by this proposal.

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About Garth Lenz: Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, and originally trained as a classical pianist, Garth Lenz left his music career in 1992 to dedicate his photography towards conservation.  He has photographed environmental, wilderness, and indigenous peoples issues throughout Canada, the U.S., Chile, Ecuador, Borneo, and China.

The views expressed in this guest blog post are those of the International League of Conservation Photographers and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Readers are welcome to exchange ideas or comments, but National Geographic reserves the right to edit or delete abusive or objectionable content.


  1. Dulcineia
    February 19, 2012, 4:16 am

    I cnuocr with your conclusions and will eagerly watch forward to your future updates. The usefulness and significance is overwhelming and has been invaluable to me!