Richard Mahler

Many visitors know Chaco Canyon National Historical Park as a nexus of spiritual or at least archaeological energy. But these days many park advocates are worried about a different sort of energy: oil and gas production.

The Baca Ranch was long a landmark of northern New Mexico—a swath of high-elevation forests and open parks that sprawled across 89,000 acres. But for a long time, too, it was a landmark that was hard to get a look at because it was closed to most public access.


Can analyzing pictures of Native peoples help others understand the cultures they live in? More than 20 years after the death of John Collier Jr., his fellow anthropologists continue to do just that. And Collier’s textbook on what he called “visual anthropology” is still widely used.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Managing wildlife sometimes means weighing the value of one species against another in order for the more threatened of the two to survive. This is the case in New Mexico, where state game managers were able to remove desert bighorn sheep from the state's endangered species list, in part, by reducing a robust mountain lion population.

NASA/JPL-Snow Optics Laboratory

  For those living in the American Southwest, dust is as much a part of the environment as dryness and sunshine. Tiny particles seem to get into everything, including houses, cars, and noses.

While dust can be annoying, scientists believe it plays a vital role in the region’s ecology. It appears to provide essential minerals and chemical compounds to high-mountain ecosystems, just as seafaring salmon bring ocean nutrients high up into freshwater streams.

Bureau of Land Management

Electricity-generating wind turbines are a common sight these days. Yet their popularity is limited by the fact that the wind stops blowing from time to time, even on the breezy western plains. But a planned wind farm, and a set of caves, in the interior West may represent a creative solution to this problem.

The Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy project is the name for a proposed utility-scale facility that would provide Southern California with over two gigawatts of green power. That’s double the amount produced by Hoover Dam, and enough to serve over a million homes.

One of the enduring mysteries of the Colorado Plateau is why the area’s ancient Puebloan population dropped to almost zero in the late 13th century, after peaking at as many as 40,000 people just 30 years earlier.

An unusual team of four-legged researchers is hard at work in the Jémez Mountains of New Mexico. They love to run, chase balls — and sniff out a rare salamander found nowhere else.

University of New Mexico

Wilderness areas represent the highest degree of protection the federal government grants to public lands. They’re managed for values of solitude, scenery, and natural habitat.

In the future today’s young people are going to be making important decisions about a host of environmental challenges faced by the southwestern states, from climate change and wildfires to habitat loss and pollution.