Rose Houk

Land Lines

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.”

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.

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.

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

Courtesy photo

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

USDA Forest Service

Today, the West’s amber waves of grass are more often than not a species land managers cringe to see. Cheatgrass, a Eurasian species that most likely arrived on ships a century ago, now runs across millions of acres of the Intermountain West and Colorado Plateau. 

National Park Service

Many visitors to Grand Canyon like to have a picnic when they visit the national park. And they’re not alone. The trouble is that their fellow South Rim diners have often been big, and hungry, elk.

Clay Martin/USGS

Herbert Ernest Gregory isn’t exactly a household name among Colorado Plateau residents. But, for more than 40 years, Gregory spent several months each summer exploring and explaining the plateau’s geologic wonderland.  About all that commemorates him here now is his weathered canteen hanging in the visitor center at Zion National Park.

Natural History Museum of Ut

A dinosaur recently found in southern Utah has reshaped paleontologists’ ideas of the fierce group of carnivores known as tyrannosaurs.

Arizona Game and Fish Department

Arizona claims a unique population of desert-nesting bald eagles. Those eagles often build their big bulky nests near water, including lakes and rivers in the northern part of the state. The birds use about anything they can find in nest construction—including used fishing line.