Does the great bear still haunt Colorado?

This is the question veteran outdoorsman and Durango author David Petersen posed in his book Ghost Grizzlies and will raise again when he comes to the Salida SteamPlant on May 11 at 7 p.m. to speak at the next free Collegiate Peaks Forum Series lecture.

Once a Marine Corps helicopter pilot, college writing instructor and magazine editor, Petersen now lives in the rural San Juan mountains in a hand-built cabin. Founder of the Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers and former Colorado public lands conservation field director for Trout Unlimited, Petersen has won numerous conservation awards. He’s authored many books on the topic of man’s connection with nature.

He and his life partner, Carolyn, were featured in the documentary “On the Wild Edge: Hunting for a Natural Life,” and Petersen edited the writing of Edward Abbey and the environmental essays of Pulitzer Prize-winner A.B. Guthrie Jr.

During the evening, Petersen will guide the audience on his lifelong search for evidence of the “next ‘last’ Colorado grizzly bear,” as told in his book. Petersen claims the story he tells “stands as a timeless metaphor for every wild place and creature that finds itself under the gun of human encroachment still today.”

Nonprofit CPFS was founded in 2003 by a handful of intellectually curious citizens. Board members work together, frequently planning a year in advance, to secure notable speakers and scholars on the subjects of philosophy, spirituality and science for their free public events held in Leadville, Buena Vista and Salida. Butch Butler, CPFS treasurer, said the group has tremendous support within the community – there is occasionally standing room only at the lectures – and depends entirely on individual and business support to fund the events. “We don’t pay well, but we’ve attracted some phenomenal people to come here and give a lecture.”

Pre-signed copies of Petersen’s books will be available for purchase at the talk. For more information about his work, visit davidpetersenbooks.com. To learn about the CPFS or to donate, visit collegiatepeaksforum.org.