My Story


MikeI am an Assistant Professor of Environmental History and Sustainability at the University of Northern Iowa, were I teach a wide array of courses on 19 and 20th Century American history, the environment, and sustainability. My work focuses on US environmental history in a global context, specifically the history of tourism, outdoor recreation and sustainability.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARaised outside the Colorado mountain town of Fraser, lovingly known as the “Icebox of the Nation,” I spent most of my childhood roaming the surrounding woods and perusing the shelves at the local library. After completing my Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees, I ski bummed for a few winters before finding work as a sometimes journalist covering outdoor recreation and environmental issues for magazines such as VeloNews. Wanting to explore the historical connections between recreational tourism and the environment I then moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, to pursue my doctorate in environmental and public history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

In the years since, I have managed large administrative histories on topics as varied as Yosemite National Park, the Las Vegas Valley Water District and fire management within the National Parks, and taught a wide range of classes across several disciplines, including environmental histories of the Mississippi and Colorado River Basins, historical methods, and sustainability.

Colorado Powder Keg CoverPublished in 2012, my first book Colorado Powder Keg: Ski Resorts and the Environmental Movement, examines the history of  Colorado’s ski industry and investigates how private interests profited from the development of public lands,  as well as the role of the U.S. Forest Service in fostering the development of ski resorts, and the changing value of nature from extractive use to recreational use throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. My work has been featured on NPR’s Colorado Matters and numerous newspapers and periodicals.

IMG_0251I am currently working on a history of tourism in Yosemite National Park and spending time exploring the few tall grass prairies left in Iowa with my trusty yellow lab Bear the Dog.

For more see my CV.

I can be contacted at