Death Zone to Lifeline: Colorado State University Hosts Programs Examining Past, Future of Iron Curtain

For more than four decades, the 4,000-mile corridor known as the Iron Curtain was a place of danger and destruction – and people stayed out.

But that led to an unexpected outcome: the Iron Curtain became a safe haven for wildlife. Scientists and biologists discovered tremendous hidden biological resources along the Iron Curtain, which could become one of the world’s biggest tourist-friendly, recreation-filled nature preserves.

Colorado State University in early November will host programs examining the past and future of the Iron Curtain, a 4,000-mile corridor that bisected Europe along ideological lines during the Cold War.  

"The Iron Curtain: From Cold War Death Zone to Europe’s Lifeline" will include two talks presenting a historical and photographic perspective as well as a future conservation vision from 6-8 p.m. Nov. 4 in Room C101 of the Plant Science Building, with a design charrette running from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 5 in the Lory Student Center North Ballroom.

Liana Geidezis, one of the leaders of the effort to turn the Iron Curtain corridor into a "green belt," and Brian Rose, who spent 10 years photographing the area and published his images in a new book, "The Lost Border," are the featured speakers. The charrette includes public presentation of the designs from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Registration is required for the charrette, which has space for about 100 people. Call (970) 491-5917 to register.

"The same corridor that was created and maintained as a place of control, where people were killed on sight, is now a place with incredible potential for history, wildlife and even outdoor recreation," said Paul Cawood Hellmund, assistant professor of landscape architecture and one of the organizers of the Iron Curtain program at Colorado State.

"Always before, it was about separation, about keeping people apart. Now it stands for unity and bringing people together – not just within the corridor, but also in the many landscapes the corridor touches."