Rose Houk

Land Lines

The name is practically as long as the animal itself: the “chisel-toothed kangaroo rat.” It lives in desert landscapes from Oregon and California through Utah and into northwest Arizona. 

Among well-known western writers, the name Wallace Stegner ranks right at the top. He grew up western, and consistently and eloquently captured the region’s sense of place.   

The high plateau of Cedar Mesa in southern Utah is a stunning bit of scenery and archaeology. Early Puebloan farmers grew crops there and built stunning dwellings inside snug, dry sandstone alcoves. When they departed, they left behind tantalizing traces of their lives.

Sometimes what looks like a white plastic bag snagged in the top of a pine tree is only a plastic bag. Sometimes it’s something else – a bag of bugs, you might say.

With their bald heads, beady eyes, and habit of shredding messy roadkill, turkey vultures look like birds only a mother could love. But this week we all should look up and tip our hats at the key role they play in the natural world. Saturday September 5 is International Vulture Awareness Day.

We tend to think that rivers flow in a consistent direction: downstream. But over geologic time “downstream” can change. That’s why a place like Unaweep Canyon in western Colorado is such a good place to think about long-term time travel.


When presidents approach the end of a term, an otherwise little-known federal law often hits the headlines. It’s the Antiquities Act, passed by Congress in 1906.

How do we know who lives where? Increasingly, land managers are turning to a fun and educational event to find out: the bioblitz.

Northern Arizona Audubon Society

Each spring, common black hawks soar into Arizona skies from their wintering grounds in Mexico. These large, coal-black raptors, with distinctive white-banded tails, spend the warmer six months of the year here breeding, nesting and raising young.

Springs are magical places where groundwater comes to the surface — lush green patches that are among the most diverse, productive, and threatened ecosystems on Earth.