Billy Barr (naturalist)

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Billy Barr, stylized as billy barr,[1] is an American amateur scientist known for his collection of over 40 years of data on snow levels, temperatures and animal migration in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Barr's data collection is recognized as critical evidence of the effects of climate change.[2][3]

Life and work[edit]

Barr grew up in Trenton, New Jersey.[4] In 1972, as a student researcher from Rutgers University, he took a short-term job[3] at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory measuring water quality near Crested Butte in the West Elk Mountains, Colorado.[2][5][6] After some time, he featured in a local newspaper as an eccentric mountain hermit.[2][7]

In the mid 1970s, with the initial intention of escaping the boredom of living in the remote location of Gothic Mountain,[2] Barr began meticulously collecting environmental data by measuring the snow depth, temperatures and noting the arrival of different species in the spring.[8][3] Around the same time, he became "an unofficial caretaker" of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory.[9] In late 1990s, the lab's resident ecologist David Inouye recognized the significance of Barr's data and began sharing it with other scientists. Since then, Barr's records have been used in numerous scientific articles on climate change.[10][11][12]

The 2016 documentary film The Snow Guardian is dedicated to Barr.[9][13]


  1. ^ Blevins, Jason (2018-01-20). "From a remote cabin in the snowy hills above Crested Butte, Billy Barr's historical records make him an accidental apostle among climate researchers". The Denver Post. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  2. ^ a b c d The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science, The Atlantic, January 12, 2017
  3. ^ a b c "Climate diarist "wasn't out to prove anything"". CBS News.
  4. ^ Q&A: Billy Barr - 5280
  5. ^ Duane, Daniel. "Meadow's End". Mother Jones. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  6. ^ Miniclier, Kit. "Isolation in Gothic 'quiet and real nice'". Denver Post. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  7. ^ "Colorado mountain is home to a thoroughly modern hermit" Arizona Republic, June 1, 1982, p. 17 (the reference provided in The Atlantic article, retrieved January 13, 2017)
  8. ^ Estabrook, Rachel. "Watch How Billy Barr Tracks The Snow Near Crested Butte For Climate Data Gold". Colorado Public Library. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  9. ^ a b "Short climate film features Gothic local billy barr - The Crested Butte News". The Crested Butte News. Retrieved 2017-03-08.
  10. ^ Ian Billick; Mary V. Price (1 August 2012). The Ecology of Place: Contributions of Place-Based Research to Ecological Understanding. University of Chicago Press. pp. 389–. ISBN 978-0-226-05044-7.
  11. ^ Mark Schwartz (30 July 2013). Phenology: An Integrative Environmental Science. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 259–. ISBN 978-94-007-6925-0.
  12. ^ American Journal of Botany. 1991.
  13. ^ Breyer, Melissa. "Man who lives alone in the woods has recorded 40 years of important data on snow". Treehugger. Retrieved 15 January 2017.