Then, Then, and Now

The 2020 GRSLE field program will include revisiting sites that have been recorded before to assess how vegetation cover and artifact visibility have changed since the 2006 Little Venus Fire (LVF). In addition to sites, it will be a good opportunity to re-take photos of the general area impacted by fire.

In early July, when still in the process of deciding if fieldwork was possible in 2020, revisited an area had not been to for over a decade. For a couple of years after the 2006 fire, we took a large number of photographs of the area and one of the opportunties to grab some of the landscape change low hanging fruit will be to create duplicate images for a series of right-after-the-fire versus today comparisons. In preparation for doing this, have been assembling groups of images to print and take into the field to re-locate. Duplicate images will be taken, along with GPS locations of each photo point will be recorded. Should be great fun (and will be an activity that can be done, distanced and un-masked!!).

2007 versus 2020 landscape views.
Images from 2006 — soon after the LVF

Targets for 2020 re-photographing of landscape changes.

Burned Landscape 2006

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Images from 2007 — 11 to 13 months after LVF

More locations for 2020 re-photographing.

Charles Belden Images — 1920 & 1930s

We have a series of additional images from 2008 and 2009 that will also be included in the group of prints that take to field to help relocated photo locations and document vegetation change. And once we start down the then and now path, it seems not a much longer trip to incorporate some then, and then, and now into the mix. Specifically, many of the areas we’ll be worked were included in photographs taken nearly a century ago by famed western photographer Charles Belden. It would seem a shame, as long as we were in the area taking images to compare 2020 to soon after the 2006 LVF to not also include retakes of some of the classic Belden scenes. Wouldn’t it? Maybe that’ll have to be 2020 Goal 6b.

Examples of Charles Belden photos, all of which are within the area where we’ll be working in 2020. For an overview of Belden’s photographs and history, stop in at the Charles Belden Museum ( Meeteetse Museums).

The American Heritage Center of Laramie has there entire collection of 3000 Belden images are digitized and accessible online and a quick search of the GRSLE photo archive found several close matches — images of the same place, but from slightly different position. Here’s one example:

Same place slightly different photo location. Image on the left from the GRSLE archive; image on the right if from the American Heritage Center digital online collection (image ah0598-2300). During the 2020 GRSLE field season locations like this will be revisted with a print of the Beldon photo to try to replicate the earlier image as closely as possible. We currently have 40 such locations targeted. Will see how many we have time and energy to relocate.

Another example of Belden-then and 2020. Closer to location, with UTM location recorded. Think this re-location/re-photo task will work (American Heritage Belden Collection number ah00598.0030.jpg and image taken in early July 2020).

Horses and sheep missing. Beetle killed trees and Little Venus Fire have changed some of timber, but then and now, still a spectacular place! Camera elevation not quite right yet. Next visit.