John Walter Mumma died Sept. 1, 2022, following a long bout with multiple myeloma cancer. He died at home with his wife Myra holding his hand. It was their 46th wedding anniversary.
John was born in Farmington, New Mexico, on Sept. 30, 1939 to Richard Marion Mumma and Luita Lavina Dufur Mumma.
He graduated from Farmington High School where he played high school sports. He especially enjoyed tennis. In 2020 he was inducted into the Farmington Scorpion Hall of Fame. He attended Ft. Lewis College in Durango, Colorado with three scholarships of Merit, Athletics and Music.
John graduated from the University of New Mexico, attended Oregon State University and Colorado State University. He worked summers for the San Juan National Forest Service in Durango while coaching football, wrestling and tennis at Miller Middle School. He was hired at the Pagosa Springs Job Corps on the San Juan National Forest which started a 40-year career in natural resources.
During those 40 years, John served as the Range and Wildlife sub staff assistant in the San Juan National Forest Supervisor’s office in Durango, Colorado; Assistant Ranger position on the Collbran Ranger District of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests; Snow Ranger at Powder Mountain Ski Area; Range and Wildlife sub staff on the Apache National Forest in Springerville, Arizona; Fisheries and Wildlife staff to the Southwest Regional Office; District Ranger at the Cloudcroft Ranger District on the Lincoln National Forest; Resource staff for Timber, Range, Wildlife and Fire on the Shoshone National Forest in Cody Wyoming; Director of Wildlife and Fisheries for the Intermountain Region, Ogden, Utah and from there to the Rocky Mountain Region in Denver as head of Range, Wildlife, Fisheries and Ecology. He then transferred to the National Office in Washington, D.C. on the Programs and Legislation staff. In 1987 he was reassigned to the Northern Region located in Missoula, Montana, as Deputy Regional Forester. That same year he was promoted to Regional Forester.
Four years before retirement eligibility he separated from the Forest Service due to requirements of the Senior Service Executive Act. It was a time of much controversy for the Forest Service and especially the Northern Region.
He was a natural resource consultant for four years and in 1995 was named Director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife headquartered in Denver, Colorado.
John was proud of his accomplishments and awards. He received the Aldo Leopold Medal from the Wildlife Society. He was awarded the Superior Service Award from the Secretary of Agriculture, the Conservation Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and the Ernest Thomas Seton Award from the 50 State Fish and Wildlife Agencies for having the outstanding fish and wildlife leadership program.
When he was on the Shoshone he proposed a land stratification for grizzly habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Area that would help provide for grizzly recovery. And he served on the Interagency Grizzly Bear (IGBC) Committee for nearly half his natural resource career.
As Director of the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) he spearheaded the purchase of over 100,000 acres of wetland habitat. After retiring from the CDOW the Governor of Colorado named a native fish hatchery and recovery facility after him. The facility is the John W. Mumma Aquatic Native Research and Hatchery located in the San Luis Valley and is the only one of its kind in the United States.
John also had a hand in the acquisition of the Bosque del Apache elk habit in southern Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recognized him for several elk habitat projects in both Montana and Colorado.
After the historic 1988 wildland fire season in which every National Forest had a project fire and the Greater Yellowstone complex had nearly a million acres burned, the firefighters recognized him for his outstanding leadership during that historic fire season.
John was selected as the chairman for developing and implementing the Congressional Designated Chief Joseph National Historic Trail (the Nee Mee Poo Trail of Tears).
While he was proud of acknowledgments and awards, there was a greater influence. He and his best friend and wife of 46 years took great pleasure in spending time outdoors with their children and grandchildren. Countless field trips were taken from the Colorado and Wyoming mountains to Canada and to the Kenai in Alaska. He passed on knowledge of plants and wildlife that is now being taught to his great-grandchildren. He always beamed at the text messages with pictures and videos.
John was predeceased by his parents and sister Joyce. He is survived by two children, Rainee (Pete) Loebs and Johnny Lance Mumma, as well as two stepchildren, Marette Riley and Chris Nielsen. The couple boasts of eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. John’s ashes will be interred at Greenmount Cemetery in Durango, Colorado. Memorial plans are pending