Earth Notes

When most of us hear the word “cattle” we think of an animal that came to the Southwest in the late 1800s. But one breed arrived here long before most other settlers.

National Park Service

If asked what's impressive about the Grand Canyon, most visitors probably won't mention a water pipeline. But one of this national park's great engineering feats is the Trans-Canyon Pipeline, which carries half a million gallons of water every day from Roaring Springs down Bright Angel Canyon, past Phantom Ranch and across Silver Bridge.

USDA Forest Service

Smoke is a complicated substance. Most people who live in or near western forests have a good feel for how it affects people. But what's less well known is that it affects plants, too.

Earth Notes: Utah’s Bison

May 13, 2015

Above Moab’s Mill Canyon, a sandstone cliff holds an art gallery. Its images range from petroglyphs left by the ancient Fremont people to cowboy inscriptions. One stands out—a bull bison, complete with hump and horns. Nearby, painted Ute warriors carry shields, a form of body armor crafted from the animal’s skin.

Northern Arizona Audubon Society

Each spring, common black hawks soar into Arizona skies from their wintering grounds in Mexico. These large, coal-black raptors, with distinctive white-banded tails, spend the warmer six months of the year here breeding, nesting and raising young.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Managing wildlife sometimes means weighing the value of one species against another in order for the more threatened of the two to survive. This is the case in New Mexico, where state game managers were able to remove desert bighorn sheep from the state's endangered species list, in part, by reducing a robust mountain lion population.

  As cliff swallows return to the Colorado Plateau this spring, they set about building mud nests on cliffs – or, just as often, on manmade structures like bridge abutments or under wide eaves. That takes a lot of work—more than a thousand beakfuls of mud for a new nest.

  Cliff swallows live communally, and they’ll sometimes fast-track the nest-building process by stealing mud from neighbors or laying an egg or two in a nearby nest.

Springs are magical places where groundwater comes to the surface — lush green patches that are among the most diverse, productive, and threatened ecosystems on Earth.

Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

Migratory birds are among the forces that stitch the globe together. Biologists have long known that animals can carry seeds and spores on their bodies, or may eat them and spread them in their waste.

NASA/JPL-Snow Optics Laboratory

  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.

Pages