National Park Service

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.


U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

Federal officials have proposed a sweeping new plan to manage Glen Canyon Dam for the next two decades. They want to be more proactive in their efforts to restore fish and animal habitat as well as beaches that have degraded in the Grand Canyon since the dam became operational in the 1960s. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.


Jim Roth

Many of the country's most prominent national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Zion, set new visitation records in 2015 and are bracing for what could be an even busier new year.

 

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday in 2016 and has been urging Americans to rediscover the country's scenic wonders or find new parks to visit through marketing campaigns that include giving free passes to every fourth-grader and their families.

So the attendance records could be shot lived, with even bigger crowds expected next year.

A walk in the woods doesn’t usually happen in a landscape of starkly beautiful desert mesas dotted with narrow-leafed yucca and rabbitbrush.


The Baca Ranch was long a landmark of northern New Mexico—a swath of high-elevation forests and open parks that sprawled across 89,000 acres. But for a long time, too, it was a landmark that was hard to get a look at because it was closed to most public access.


It’s an iconic southwestern scene: the glimmer of green or yellow cottonwood leaves fluttering against the backdrop of Zion Canyon’s tremendous red- and cream-colored cliffs. Along southwest Utah’s Virgin River, groves of cottonwood trees please the eye, offer very welcome shade, and provide habitat for numerous types of animals.

But Zion’s cottonwoods are in trouble. Big as they are, the cottonwood trees along the river aren’t particularly long lived. Worse yet, as they die they are not being replaced by younger trees.

Michael Quinn/NPS

Over Labor Day Weekend, Grand Canyon National Park had a record number of visitors. Officials say an improving economy and the National Park Service’s upcoming centennial are responsible for the spike. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

Office of Emergency Management in La Plata County Colorado

A massive wastewater spill from a Colorado mine is expected to reach Lake Powell sometime this week.

About three million gallons of wastewater poured into the Animas River last Wednesday after a breach at a defunct gold mine near Silverton. The contaminated water has reached the San Juan River in New Mexico, which flows into Lake Powell on the Colorado River. 

Cynthia Sequanna is a spokesperson for the National Park Service.

Justin Clifton

Canyon Lands National Park in southern Utah is a preserve for countless archaeological and cultural artifacts. It also sits atop highly sought after oil deposits. That dichotomy is the focus of a new documentary by Flagstaff filmmaker Justin Clifton. Our Canyon Lands explores the history and current challenges of land management near the park. Thursday night is the Flagstaff premiere of Clifton's film. He spoke with Arizona Public Radio's Aaron Granillo about the documentary.

NPS

The historic Desert View Watchtower at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park is transforming into a Native American heritage center. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the multimillion dollar center is designed to present the canyon from a tribal point of view.

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