Nature makes people feel better. Studies have shown that hospital patients who can see a natural scene from their window—or even an image of nature—typically heal faster than those cut off from the outdoors.
The back of its wings glinting rust-red in the sun, a ferruginous hawk scans the grasslands below for ground squirrels and jackrabbits, two choice meals. These hawks rely on broad vistas to catch prey. But shrubs and juniper trees have steadily invaded many of their hunting grounds in the Southwest.
It’s tough to miss a century plant in full bloom. The plant’s base of wide, pointed leaves sends up an enormously tall stalk that blooms brilliantly in spring. Also called agave or mescal, it’s a plant that’s common throughout the desert Southwest.
For those living in the American Southwest, dust is as much a part of the environment as dryness and sunshine. Tiny particles seem to get into everything, including houses, cars, and noses.
While dust can be annoying, scientists believe it plays a vital role in the region’s ecology. It appears to provide essential minerals and chemical compounds to high-mountain ecosystems, just as seafaring salmon bring ocean nutrients high up into freshwater streams.
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.
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?