Rose Houk

Land Lines

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Earth Notes
5:00 am
Wed June 24, 2015

Earth Notes: Blitzing Biotic Diversity

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

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Earth Notes
11:56 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Earth Notes: Arizona's 'Water' Hawks

Arizona's "Water" Hawks
Credit 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.

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Earth Notes
3:11 pm
Wed April 15, 2015

Earth Notes: After a Fire, Is a Spring an Oasis?

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.

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Earth Notes
8:00 am
Wed March 4, 2015

Earth Notes: Walnut Canyon Celebrates a Century

  This year, Walnut Canyon is celebrating a hundred years of protection as a national monument—protection that came none too soon because its prehistoric sites were being seriously damaged.

It was people known to archaeologists as the northern Sinagua who built some three hundred rooms in the limestone alcoves of this hidden canyon near the San Francisco Peaks. They lived, farmed, and hunted in the canyon and on the rim from the 1100s into the mid-1200s.

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Earth Notes
8:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Earth Notes: Grand Canyon's Pioneering Cactus Collector

Credit National Park Service

  It was a long way from the civilized college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Mexican Hat, Utah, back in the summer of 1937. But Dr. Elzada Clover made the trip.

A botanist at the University of Michigan, she had an ambitious dream to explore the little-known plant life of the Colorado River region. Cacti were her specialty. Where better to find them than the Southwest deserts?

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Earth Notes
1:44 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Earth Notes: The Love Song of the Sandhill Crane

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

  People in New Mexico pay close attention to the sky this time of year, watching and listening for flocks of sandhill cranes flying in graceful V-formation.

Each winter, ten to twenty thousand sandhills arrive, spending the days resting and feeding along the Rio Grande around Albuquerque and south. Others winter in southeastern Arizona.

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Earth Notes
9:17 am
Wed January 28, 2015

Earth Notes: Expanding Goblin Valley

Credit Utah State Parks

  Many visitors discover Goblin Valley by chance on their way between marquee national parks like Capitol Reef and Canyonlands. But this Utah state park received unwanted publicity in 2013 when two men were caught on video toppling rocks off the weirdly rounded hoodoos that give the park its name.

That act of vandalism spurred a big idea: why not expand the park? Goblin Valley currently consists of about 3,500 acres of outlandish geology. But that may soon grow to about 10,000 acres under a State Parks plan.

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Earth Notes
9:59 am
Wed January 7, 2015

Earth Notes: Miss Eastwood, a pioneering lover of plants

Credit California Academy of Sciences

  In the late nineteenth century, it would have been a brave undertaking for a woman to tromp around the wilds of the Colorado Plateau. But that is what Alice Eastwood did, in long skirt and fine flowered hat, following her passion for plants.

Born in Canada in 1859, Eastwood grew up in Denver and was a high school teacher there for a time. Armed with field guides and a plant press, she spent vacations exploring all over the West. An energetic woman, she traveled by foot, horse, and rail, and eventually won welcome to an all-male hiking club.

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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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