Something will have gone out of us as a people, Wallace Stegner famously wrote, if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed.
The historian and novelist, who died at age 84 in 1993, may have been referring to the Colorado Plateau, a place he dearly loved. But Stegner is often labeled the dean of western writers for good reason. He was raised in Montana, Utah, and Saskatchewan, and taught creative writing at Stanford University.
Have you noticed the world getting noisier? Even in wild places the sound of silence is becoming scarce.
People who record natural environments for a living lament the intrusion of noise from airplanes, gunfire, all-terrain vehicles, and distant highway traffic. The result, says recordist Gordon Hempton, is that quiet is going extinct.
Flagstaff, AZ – Earth Notes: Utah's Dinosaur Tracks
190 million years ago a carnivorous dinosaur no larger than a robin hopped across a patch of damp earth in what would eventually become southern Utah. Its tracks were buried and eventually turned to stone. Today, thanks to a lucky discovery, they've turned up again near Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park west of Kanab.
Flagstaff, AZ – Surgeons at Flagstaff medical center have a new tool called the da Vinci Surgical System. One week ago it was used to perform the first robotic surgery in the region. Arizona Public Radio's Theresa Bierer has the story.
Flagstaff, AZ – Earth Notes: Forests and Carbon Dioxide
People have long looked to forests as our allies in the effort against climate change. Trees and other plants live by absorbing carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that's produced by the burning of fossil fuels. If more trees grow in more forests, then, they absorb more carbon, right?
They do but only up to a point. That's because most forests burn at some time. When they do, they release much of that trapped carbon back into the atmosphere.
Flagstaff, AZ – Almost three years after Arizona Public Service decommissioned the Childs and Irving power plants on Fossil Creek, a restoration success story has blossomed.
Fossil Creek starts from springs below the Mogollon Rim in central Arizona. It's one of just a few streams in the Southwest with the chemistry to produce travertine, which can form beige dams and pale blue pools that look like paradise. But its waters had been diverted for hydroelectricity for nearly a century.
Flagstaff, AZ – Many land managers are combating unwanted invasive species. On the Colorado Plateau, they decided to fight one of them by introducing another new species.
The unwanted plant, in this case, is tamarisk, the thirsty plant that crowds out willows and cottonwoods along southwestern watercourses. Entomologists went to its native land - China - to find a bug that eats these brushy shrubs.