They’re sometimes called fish eagles, for good reason: their diet is almost all live fish. They’re big raptors, hard to miss soaring above the scattered rivers and lakes of the Southwest’s high country. They’re ospreys, birds that belong to the summer skies of the Colorado Plateau.
At Navajo National Monument up in northeast Arizona, soaring rock alcoves provided shelter for Pueblo people in the thirteenth century. Many alcoves also hold springs, lush with plants. Today on Land Lines, we visit a well-known site, Betatakin--set like a jewel in one of those alcoves.
"The name for this place is Talastima, place of flowers, or corn tasseling. This is where we came from," says Lloyd Masayumptewa, a Hopi and a park archeologist.
Trees grace our sidewalks, house birds, feed squirrels, and furnish wood for everything from campfires to fences. And the oxygen plants emit allows us to live on Earth in the first place. But now tree huggers have a new way to assess the benefits our leafy companions provide.
Montezuma Well is easy to find down in the Verde Valley–it’s located right at the intersection of geology and biology. The blue-green pool–120 yards wide, cupped in a perfectly round sinkhole–is startling in the middle of a mesquite desert.
What can a small, inconspicuous shrub tell us about climate change in the Southwest? That’s the question researchers are asking about blackbrush.
Most people don’t take a second glance at this compact, slow-growing shrub bristling with spiny, gray-black branches. Yet it grows across several million acres in the Mojave Desert and up onto the Colorado Plateau, sometimes in nearly pure stands. You can see extensive swaths in Arches and Canyonlands, and over the Tonto Plateau in Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon has always attracted people who fall deeply in love with the landscape and its lessons. One of those who made the place his life’s work was Edwin Dinwiddie McKee.
Born in Washington, D.C. in 1906, McKee was influenced by his scoutmaster Francois Matthes, an early Grand Canyon mapmaker. A summer paleontology internship at the canyon was all it took to ignite young Eddie’s life-long love affair with geology.
Here’s some of that grey rock, it’s coming down the channel – your first clue. It’s all about discovery …..
Twenty-five years ago, I parked near Black Mesa, up in northeast Arizona. On no particular schedule and with no real destination, I just started walking--because I knew I would discover something. I wandered up an unnamed canyon with walls of sheer Navajo Sandstone.
In the depths of the Great Depression, the nation’s unemployment stood at 25 percent. With people hungry and desperate for jobs, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a law in March 1933 creating the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC gave jobs to single men 18 to 25 years old, with most of their thirty-dollar-a-month paychecks returned to their families.
Don't try the Kelly Grade in a rainstorm. When this steep stretch of the Smoky Mountain Road is wet, its mud surface is impossibly slick. Stay in granny gear, keep a tight grip on the wheel, and hope that nobody else is coming the other way. There's no guardrail and that cliff next to your tires drops hundreds of feet straight down. The shale gives way to sandstone when the road straightens out on top of the Kaiparowits Plateau.