Photos from my August 2017 visit with Lawrence Crowder in Alamosa, Colorado, as he raked and baled alfalfa. A couple of months earlier, in June, I had caught up with the NASA Airborne Snow Observatory team in Grand Junction, Colorado, from which they based flights over the Rio Grand River’s headwaters. Crowder’s alfalfa depends on that water.

  • The Rio Grande as it flows through Alamosa.
  • Without irrigation, this is what Colorado's San Luis Valley looks like.
  • With irrigation, this is what Colorado's San Luis Valley looks like (in this case, Lawrence Crowder's alfalfa field).
  • A red-tailed hawk perches on one of Lawrence Crowder's irrigators. The water's source is in the background.
  • Lawrence Crowder, Alamosa farmer and irrigation company president, in the tractor cab with Kadee (lower left).
  • Rake folded up, Lawrence Crowder heads back to switch to a baler.
  • Craig Cotten, the state water engineer for the district that includes the San Luis Valley.
  • Elizabeth Carey of NASA JPL’s Airborne Snow Observatory team points out the Riegl lidar from below the King Air’s belly in Grand Junction.
  • The NASA Airborne Snow Observatory's instruments, the lidar on the left, the spectrometer on the right.
  • The NASA Airborne Snow Observatory King Air's interior toward the cockpit
  • The NASA ASO insturments occupy much of the aft cabin.
  • The NASA ASO's King Air taxis for takeoff.
  • FlightAware's tracking of a June 10, 2017 NASA ASO flight over the headwaters of the Rio Grande.
  • Another view of the NASA ASO June 10 flight. (Courtesy FlightAware)


And a video (this with the original Twin Otter aircraft and Teledyne Optech lidar, later replaced with a Riegl):