earth notes

With their bald heads, beady eyes, and habit of shredding messy roadkill, turkey vultures look like birds only a mother could love. But this week we all should look up and tip our hats at the key role they play in the natural world. Saturday September 5 is International Vulture Awareness Day.

Earth Notes: The Southwest’s Armored Anteater

Aug 26, 2015

With spikes rimming its head and spines flanking its body, the horned lizard of the West could be a fearsome sight, a sort of modern-day dinosaur. That is, if it were any larger than a human hand. 

We tend to think that rivers flow in a consistent direction: downstream. But over geologic time “downstream” can change. That’s why a place like Unaweep Canyon in western Colorado is such a good place to think about long-term time travel.

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When presidents approach the end of a term, an otherwise little-known federal law often hits the headlines. It’s the Antiquities Act, passed by Congress in 1906.

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After more than 15 years of negotiations, the state of Utah and the National Park Service signed a water rights agreement this spring for Arches National Park.

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Can analyzing pictures of Native peoples help others understand the cultures they live in? More than 20 years after the death of John Collier Jr., his fellow anthropologists continue to do just that. And Collier’s textbook on what he called “visual anthropology” is still widely used.

Bears Ears Coalition

Among the most prominent landmarks of southern Utah are the Bear’s Ears—a pair of buttes south of the Dark Canyon Wilderness that are visible for many miles. They’re known to Navajo people as the birthplace of the celebrated “Headman” Manuelito, who was known for resisting federal efforts to forcibly remove Navajos from the region.

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.

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

Earth Notes: Returning Grass to the Grasslands

Jun 17, 2015

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.

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