Rose Houk

Land Lines

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Earth Notes
2:48 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Earth Notes: Nature’s Pesky Gardener

Credit National Park Service

  They’re an animal many gardeners love to hate, though they’re rarely seen. Ribbons of dirt strung across the ground, and sometimes disappearing plants, are the only sign most people will see of pocket gophers, rodents that themselves are very active gardeners.

The dirt trails are created as these small animals excavate underground tunnels where they live, store food, and bear young.

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Earth Notes
10:23 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Earth Notes: A New Window into the Verde Valley’s Past

Credit Verde Valley Archaeology Center.

 Archaeologists have long appreciated that the Southwest’s dry climate is ideal for preserving perishable goods left by past people. Cloth, basketry, wood, or plant and animal materials that have survived for nearly a thousand years are rare, exciting finds.

Such a discovery was made on a ranch near Montezuma Castle in central Arizona, and the entire collection was recently donated to the Verde Valley Archaeology Center in Camp Verde.

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Earth Notes
11:55 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Earth Note: The Pinyon Nut Harvest

Utah State University

  The Colorado pinyon pine, the tree that covers millions of acres of the Colorado Plateau, bears hard-shelled, wingless seeds in stubby cones. And people in the Southwest have harvested and eaten those delicious nuts for thousands of years. 

But the pines produce nuts only every five to seven years. When there was a good crop in the fall, whole families trekked to the woodlands to gather the protein- and calorie-rich nuts, which nourished them through the winter.

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Earth Notes
8:47 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Earth Notes: Wetlands Architect

The American beaver is an appealing animal, with dexterous paws, curious eyes and paddle-shaped tail. But, these rodents, the largest in North America, were nearly wiped out by the early 1900s as trappers sent mass quantities of the thick brown pelts back East for stylish top hats.

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Earth Notes
5:00 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Earth Notes: Utah’s Oil Sands

Canyonlands National Park
Credit philarmitage.net

The Colorado Plateau has seen its share of energy booms and busts. In eastern Utah, another one may be poised to begin.

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Earth Notes
5:00 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Earth Notes: A Milestone Birthday for the Wilderness Act

On Sept. 3, 1964, President Lyndon Johnson signed the National Wilderness Preservation System Act. With the stroke of a pen, 9 million acres of federal land in the United States was designated as wilderness — with a capital “W.”

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Earth Notes
4:59 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Earth Notes: William Henry Jackson

William Henry Jackson's historic photo of Mesa Verde's Two Story House.
Credit Courtesy photo

In the 19th century, William Henry Jackson introduced many Americans to the scenic wonders of the country’s West — and to the power of landscape photography.

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Earth Notes
5:00 am
Wed August 6, 2014

Earth Notes: Frogs on the Move

The northern leopard frog

On the Colorado Plateau, life begins anew when the monsoon rains come — especially for native amphibians like the northern leopard frog. This beautiful, spotted, greenish-brown frog pays close attention to moisture, and starts to move on humid days and rainy nights.

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Earth Notes
5:00 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Earth Notes: After the Slide Fire, a Rare Plant Grows Back

The Arizona bugbane

Can a plant that grows in only three national forests in Arizona survive all that today’s changing environment can throw at it? 

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Earth Notes
8:43 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Earth Notes: Watering Fields with the Sun

Solar-powered automated headgates on the Verde River.
Credit Courtesy photo

The Verde Valley, watered by the Verde River, is named for the ultra-green cast it gives to central Arizona’s desert.

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