Earth Notes

Earth Notes
8:07 am
Wed September 26, 2012

Earth Notes: Colorado Pike Minnows

Colorado Pike Minnow
Credit U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The muddy San Juan River was once home to giant specimens of America’s largest minnow—a fish that could grow as long as a man is tall, and to a weight of a hundred pounds.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed September 19, 2012

Earth Notes: Wilderness Inholdings

El Malpais National Monument.
University of New Mexico

Wilderness areas represent the highest degree of protection the federal government grants to public lands. They’re managed for values of solitude, scenery, and natural habitat.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed September 5, 2012

Earth Notes: Arizona’s Water Sentinels

Sentinels sampling water

People have been pitching in to help out some of Arizona’s endangered rivers—and they’re starting to make waves.

The Water Sentinels program got its start in 2006 as part of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.

Members say they grew tired of seeing local streams degraded by pollution, or “reduced to bone-dry washes” because of dams, diversions, and pumping.

Now more than 100 regular volunteers work on two main rivers—the Verde and the Salt.

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Earth Notes
11:19 am
Wed August 22, 2012

Earth Notes: Milkweeds for Monarchs

Monarch Butterfly
John Anderson Hedgerow Farms

If you’re out searching for one of North America’s most famed butterflies, the beautiful orange and black monarch butterfly, try looking in a patch of milkweed.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed August 15, 2012

Earth Notes: In Santa Fe, Creative Conservation Begins at School

In the future today’s young people are going to be making important decisions about a host of environmental challenges faced by the southwestern states, from climate change and wildfires to habitat loss and pollution.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed August 8, 2012

Earth Notes: Summer’s Pugnacious Hummingbird

Small can be beautiful, but for some of nature’s most spectacular birds small can mean really tough, too. Witness the rufous hummingbird, which visits wildflower meadows and hummingbird feeders across the Colorado Plateau in late summer.

For a bird less than four inches in length, the rufous hummingbird pulls off an impressive migration each year. From their wintering grounds in southern Mexico, they fly north each spring to breeding territories in the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and even as far north as Alaska.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed August 1, 2012

Earth Notes: Textile Recycling

Reusing old clothes isn’t a new habit. Americans have long donated out-of-fashion or too-small clothing to charities or resale boutiques. Creative quilters, weavers, and seamstresses cut up old dresses and restitch them into something new. Some creative, eco-conscious artists even remodel threadbare garb into couture garments and bags.

But it’s estimated that much of the nearly twelve million tons of clothing, shoes, and textiles that Americans discard each year does end up in landfills.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed July 25, 2012

Earth Notes: Arizona Mountain Tree Frog

Arizona Treefrog
Randy Babb reptilesofaz.org

In 1986, after a statewide vote by thousands of school children, the Arizona Tree Frog became Arizona’s official state amphibian. Beating out better-known rivals like the spadefoot toad by a wide margin, this small and seldom-seen frog might seem an unlikely candidate for top spot. But it makes sense when you realize how much they love to climb.

Rarely more than two inches long, with smooth green skin and a dark stripe running from eye to rear, these amphibians live mostly above 5,000 feet in the forests of central-northern Arizona, close to streams and wet meadows.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed July 11, 2012

Earth Notes: New Mexico’s Lightning Field

For over three decades, a gleaming grid of 400 stainless steel poles has drawn art-world visitors to a place more accustomed to pronghorn and occasional wandering cattle—the high, lonesome desert of western New Mexico’s Catron County.

Commissioned by the Dia Art Foundation of New York, the Lightning Field is the creation of sculptor Walter de Maria, who in the 1970s designed this Earth Art sculpture as an homage to place—and to people’s relationship to it.

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Earth Notes
4:00 am
Wed July 4, 2012

Earth Notes: The Look of Love, for Barn Swallows

Barn Swallow (H. r. erythrogaster) in Juanita, Washington, USA
JJ Cadiz, Cajay

Each year barn swallows dart and swoop in summer skies to catch insects. But these flashy blue and orange aerialists aren’t on the hunt for only food. As is true with our own species, barn swallows use athletics and appearance to show off to the opposite sex.

With their distinctive forked tails, barn swallows are widespread. On multiple continents they build mud cup nests under bridges and in barns and other human structures. But their choice of mates varies from place to place.

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