Len Ackland

University of Colorado Boulder

Len Ackland is an independent journalist, a retired journalism professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and was founding director of the university’s Center for Environmental Journalism in 1992. He wrote Making a Real Killing: Rocky Flats and the Nuclear West (U of New Mexico Press, 1999, 2002) and was editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists magazine when it won the 1987 National Magazine Award for coverage of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. His most recent article, for Reveal News from the Center for Investigative Reporting, is: https://www.revealnews.org/article/how-an-honorable-discharge-led-to-a-life-of-pain-for-a-wwii-vet/ Previously he worked as a reporter at the Chicago Tribune, the Des Moines Register and other publications. His honors include the George Polk Award in 1978 for a series on discriminatory mortgage lending and a 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship.

Len is speaking at

October 10, 2019
6:30 am - 5:00 pm


  • Sonya Doctorian (Tour Leader) Video Producer/Photojournalist
  • Paul Karolyi (Tour Leader) Editorial Director, House of Pod, Host/Producer, Changing Denver
  • Len Ackland (Speaker) University of Colorado Boulder
  • Louis Cheroutes (Speaker) Board Member, Friends of the Front Range Wildlife Refuges
  • Stephanie Malin (Speaker) Dept. of Sociology, Colorado State University
  • Murph Widdowfield (Speaker) Board Member, Rocky Flats Cold War History Museum


(6:30 a.m. departure, $45 fee, lunch included)

Coloradans once looked on the weapons plants at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, which manufactured nerve gas, and the Rocky Flats nuclear bomb factory with pride. They were huge economic boons for the region during World War II and the Cold War. Decades of spills, fires and other environmental crimes changed all that, leaving a legacy of distrust and releases of radionuclides and other industrial by-products in their wake. Our day will begin with a bus tour of the Arsenal, with expert speakers discussing the massive cleanup effort that led to the opening of the site as refuge for bison, the endangered black-footed ferret and more than 300 other species of animals. We can’t leave the Arsenal without a stop at the National Wildlife Property Repository, which houses 1.3 million items recovered from wildlife traffickers. After lunch, we’ll drive over to Rocky Flats for an optional one-hour hike and an overview of the former nuclear weapons plant’s history, the controversial remediation efforts that followed its closure and the public health concerns that remain (the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have certified the whole refuge as safe for visitors). Total drive time: 3 hours. Good for those looking for some exercise. 

Advance registration is required for all Thursday tours. Attendance on each tour is strictly limited, so registering early is important. All Thursday tours will return to the Lory Student Center at about 5:00 p.m.

IMPORTANT DEPARTURE INFORMATION: Please meet your tour leaders near the SEJ registration desk on the third floor of the Lory Student Center at the listed departure time to check-in for your tour. Eat breakfast at your hotel before arrival or plan to purchase breakfast at the Lory Student Center food court, which opens at 7:00 a.m.; coffee and snacks will be provided for tours that depart before the food court opens. Each tour will leave the ballroom as a group to board buses at a nearby location. Do not be late.

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