Colorado Plateau

In 2015 the EPA issued a Clean Power Plan directing states to limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Under the plan, for example, Arizona will need to cut annual carbon emissions from 40 to 30 million tons by 2030.


Earth Notes: Restoring Heiser Spring

Feb 3, 2016

Life flourishes near water in the desert. From rare plants to insects that begin their lives in water to the colorful warblers that eat them, healthy springs are hotspots of biodiversity.


Extended drought on the Navajo Nation has been tough on grazing animals and the grasses that usually support them. Hauling in more hay from outside the reservation has been a short-term fix for feeding hungry livestock. But it has contributed to an invasion – of noxious weeds. 


Earth Notes: Monitoring the Bosque

Jan 13, 2016

The fast-growing field of “citizen science” is a proven way for local residents—young and old—to build direct connections to their environment and help professional scientists conduct essential research.


For millennia, people have coveted rare goods they could get only through trade with others. The Ancestral Puebloans of the Colorado Plateau were no exception. They traveled great distances to exchange items like local turquoise, hides, and pottery for exotic shells, copper bells, and cacao.


USGS

Deserts like the American Southwest are expected to get drier as the climate warms. That’s bad news for soil microbes, according to a global study co-authored by researchers at Northern Arizona University.


After smoking, the second-leading cause of lung cancer is colorless, odorless, tasteless—and can come from right underfoot. Radon is a naturally occurring gas formed from the radioactive decay of radium and uranium. Those elements are present in most soils and rocks, though usually in very small concentrations.


Earth Notes: The Southwest’s Nutritional Wonder Tree

Nov 25, 2015

It's tough, spare, and spiny, but the common mesquite tree is a nutritional wonder of the Southwest. 


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.   


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