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The Rio Grande bookfront cover

The Rio Grande: An Eagle's View

The Book

The Rio Grande: An Eagle's View is a large format book with spectacular aerial photography that chronicles one of the world's most significant rivers, underscoring its exquisite beauty and importance in the American Southwest. WildEarth Guardians conceived of the book and published it as a part of its long-standing campaign to protect and restore the Rio Grande.

Photographer Adriel Heisey captured the spirit of the river in his awe-inspiring aerial images of the Rio Grande from its headwaters in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado, through New Mexico and as it straddles and defines the Texas-Mexico border, culminating with its outpouring into the Gulf of Mexico. The aerial narrative flows from the river's source to its mouth. The 240-page book showcases 185 of Heisey's aerial photographs.

Accompanying the full color images is a foreword by actor and conservationist Robert Redford. Anchoring the written narrative is an essay by noted writer Steve McDowell, who discusses the evolving conservation ethic towards the river. Senator Tom Udall provides an afterword which captures the challenges the river faces and the opportunities to protect and restore it. John Horning, WildEarth Guardians' Executive Director, provides an introduction sharing his perspective on how the project came about and why this book and Adriel's photographs are so important to preserving a living river for future generations. Together readers are taken on a vivid journey through the heart of the American Southwest.

The written narrative is a journey through time and both an elegy to the greatness the river has sustained and passionate plea to restore the river's vitality. McDowell examines the historical significance of the Rio Grande and the roles it played in forming the unique and iconic conservation ethic of the American West. As western culture has moved into modern times, McDowell explores the ways in which the river has been tapped dry, endangering the ecosystems the river creates and sustains.

"When you hold this book in your hands, with images of the Rio Grande from its full span fairly writhing across the pages, remember that the actual river is ever new, laden with mystery and surprise, and continually responsive to the best ideas and stewardship our species can muster."  - Adriel Heisey 2011 

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Rio Grande irrigated waters pc Adriel Heisey


Adriel Heisey | Photographer

Adriel Heisey began flying airplanes when he was fifteen years old. He entered professional pilot training at age 21, graduating as a Certified Flight Instructor and Airline Transport-rated pilot.

He took a position as an executive pilot with the Navajo Tribal Government allowing him to explore remote reaches of the Navajo landscape on foot, studying the archaeology of the Four Corners region while living and flying in the heart of it.
Meanwhile he was pursuing his interest in photography and in 1990, built an airplane specifically designed for that use. With over 9,000 hours as a commercial pilot, Adriel has enjoyed ample opportunity to study his subject matter in every possible light and weather condition.

He has exhibited his fine art prints of aerial photographs in shows in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Nebraska, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Mexico. His Four Corners photographs were featured as a cover story for National Geographic magazine. He has published two books: From Above Images of a Storied Land and In the Fifth World: Portrait of the Navajo Nation. He lives in New Mexico with his wife Holly and their four cats.

Robert Redford | Actor, Director, Environmentalist

Robert Redford is somewhat of an anomaly in the entertainment industry. Though he has been world-famous for some 30 years, he remains a highly private individual. He is an ardent conservationist and environmentalist, a man who stands for social responsibility and political involvement and an artist and businessman who is a staunch supporter of uncompromised creative expression. His passion remains to make films of substance and social/cultural relevance, as well as to encourage others to express themselves through the arts.

Robert Redford has received numerous awards for his environmental work, most recently he was named, 2011 Conservationist of the Year, by the National Wildlife Federation.

Steve McDowell | Author

A graduate of the University of New Mexico School of Journalism, Steve has lived in the Upper Rio Grande Basin for most of the last fifty years. He has worked on National Forests in California, Oregon, New Hampshire, Maine, and Utah.

Most of his career, however, has been in New Mexico where, among other roles, he served on five lookout towers surveying the Valley of the Rio Grande. His last book, The Persistence of Memory: New Mexico's Churches, was published by the Museum of New Mexico Press. He lives in Santa Fe.

John Horning | Executive Director, WildEarth Guardians

John Horning conceived of this Rio Grande aerial photography project shortly after seeing an Adriel Heisey photograph in the September 1996 issue of National Geographic. He has worked to protect and restore wild rivers in the American Southwest since 1994, when he first joined the staff of WildEarth Guardians.

A graduate of Colorado College, where he received a BA in American History, John has worked as a wilderness ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, as an environmental educator, and as an editorial intern at High County News. Immediately prior to coming to New Mexico, he worked for two and a half years in Washington D.C. for the National Wildlife Federation on public lands and western resource issues. John and his wife Terry live in Santa Fe.

Tom Udall | U.S. Senator

Tom Udall became New Mexico's 17th United States Senator in 2009 after two decades of public service as U.S. Representative and New Mexico's State Attorney General. Throughout his career, Tom has earned a reputation as a principled leader who has the integrity to do what is right for New Mexico and our nation.

Tom's roots in New Mexico are deep. His grandmother Louise Lee was born in Luna, NM during territorial days and was part of a ranching family in what is now Catron County.

After graduating from the University of New Mexico Law School, he served as a Law Clerk to Chief Justice Oliver Seth of the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and became a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's criminal division. As Chief Counsel to the New Mexico Department of Health and Environment, Tom also fought for stronger environmental and health protections.

One of the committees, Tom serves on is the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) where he continues his important work on energy and environmental issues.

Barbara McIntyre | Managing Editor

Formerly Vice President of Marketing for Sotheby's Worldwide in New York, Barbara McIntyre has lived in Santa Fe for the past 19 years. While working in Santa Fe as a Managing Editor for various publications, including Contemporary Art in New Mexico, she developed an infatuation with the beauty and vibrancy of the Rio Grande. Her devotion to this project is in the hope that this is the genesis of a movement to protect the life of the river. Her own love for the river has grown while kayaking with her dog Wilson.

Alex Hanna | Designer

Alex Hanna graduated from Yale University with a degree in Art History. He moved to Santa Fe to work as Nedra Matteucci's head of marketing and design before starting Invisible City Designs specializing in high quality print work. Clients include The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, The Essential Guide, The Museum of New Mexico Foundation, Glenna Goodacre Studios, Destination Hotels, The New Mexico Municipal League, Cornerstones, High Road Artisans, Victoria Price Art & Design, The Santa Fean Magazine, ArtFeast, and the Santa Fe Gallery Association.

He is the Vice-President of the Yale Club of New Mexico and Chairman of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation Business Council. More of Alex's work can be seen at Invisible City Designs.

Purchase The Rio Grande: An Eagle's View

Book purchase also includes a year long membership to WildEarth Guardians that includes invitations to events throughout the west, our quarterly newsletter, and action alerts to protect and restore wild rivers, wildlife, and wild places. A portion of the book's price is tax deductible. You will receive a letter from WildEarth Guardians detailing the tax deductible portion of your purchase. If you would like your book purchase(s) sent as a gift to an address other than your own, please send an email to Stavo Craft in our Santa Fe office, with your name, the name of your gift recipient(s), gift mailing address, and any gift message. Please allow ample time for holiday gift orders.

Two ways to buy:

  1. In our online store, you can pay by credit card and have the books shipped to one or more addresses. No shipping charges.
  2. Print our mail-in order form and pay by credit card or check.

If you have questions, contact WildEarth Guardians Executive Assistant, Stavo Craft. email or 505-699-9112

Rio Grande 300 px w Chamisa pc Adriel Heisey