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Filmmaker Wins Awards For Park Documentary

Colorado National Monument

National Park News

The breathtaking grandeur and colorful history that define Colorado National Monument was captured so powerfully in a PBS documentary last year that its filmmaker, Greg Mikolai, won two Emmy Awards for it.

This national recognition for the film, “Colorado National Monument: Celebrating 100 Years of John Otto’s Dream,” could not have occurred at a more opportune time as the monument is celebrating its centennial this year.

“Greg’s extraordinary film tells the story of a fervent conservationist who dedicated himself to protecting and promoting the land that today we know as Colorado National Monument,” said Michelle Wheatley, interim superintendent. “The Emmy Awards honor the natural splendor of the monument as well as the consummate work of a very talented filmmaker.”

The story of John Otto describes the monument’s first conservationist, a larger-than-life patriot who dedicated much of his life to protecting the place he called home for 17 years. When Otto first saw the rugged red rock canyons south of Grand Junction in 1906, it was love at first sight.

The following year he wrote: "I came here last year and found these canyons, and they feel like the heart of the world to me. I'm going to stay and build trails and promote this place, because it should be a national park."

Otto spearheaded fundraising campaigns, collected signatures for petitions, and penned newspaper editorials and endless letters to Washington politicians in support of national recognition for the ancient canyons and towering monoliths of his adopted home.

His campaign for national park status was a public-spirited mission that in 1911 prompted then-President William Howard Taft to designate it a national monument instead. 

“I knew John Otto was instrumental in preserving the monument, Mikolai said. “You can’t tell the story of the Colorado National Monument without telling his story.”

The Emmy Awards are presented by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in recognition of excellence in documentary programming. Mikolai spent 18 months working on the film which premiered in November 2010 at the Avalon Theater in Grand Junction, Colorado.


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