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Preview: Earth Notes

Earth Notes

KNAU's weekly environmental series.

Published: Wed, 15 Jun 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2017 14:38:21 GMT

Copyright: 2008, Arizona Public Radio

Earth Notes: Grand Canyon's Bass Heritage

Wed, 15 Jun 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Toward the west end of Grand Canyon National Park, the South and North Bass trails plunge into wild canyon terrain. The trails are named for William Wallace Bass, a railroad man, miner, and entrepreneur who pioneered the area in the 1880s.

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Earth Notes: Arizona's Bald Eagle Nestwatchers

Wed, 08 Jun 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Bald eagles are a spectacular sight in Arizona's skies year round. Like the human population, they're more abundant in winter, when individuals from up north migrate south to take advantage of milder winter weather.

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Earth Notes - Elk Antlers 101

Wed, 01 Jun 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Every year bull elk spend a lot of energy growing and hefting around antlers. These phenomenal structures, made purely of bone, have been known to grow at a rate of 1 inch per day during summer. But is it worth it?

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Earth Notes - Roasting Agaves

Wed, 25 May 2011 04:00:00 GMT

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 been used by Native people in the southwest for centuries - and now the art of roasting agaves has been revived.

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Earth Notes - Valles Caldera Climate Study

Wed, 18 May 2011 04:00:00 GMT

As concerns mount about the world's and the region's climate, scientists have found a time machine in New Mexico that helps them better understand the past. At the Valles Caldera National Preserve west of Los Alamos, researchers from Northern Arizona University and elsewhere have found evidence of "mega-droughts."

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Earth Notes - Grasshoppers

Wed, 11 May 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Late spring is the time when Colorado Plateau gardeners begin to see among the least welcome and most frustrating of garden visitors: grasshoppers. But there are ways to get an early start on controlling the pests, which actually are important for the overall health of the ecosystem.

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Earth Notes - Hummingbird Monitoring Network

Wed, 04 May 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Can you imagine a world without hummingbirds? That central question drives the work of the Hummingbird Monitoring Network, a nonprofit group dedicated to conservation, education, research, and habitat restoration for these jeweled wonders of the bird world.

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Earth Notes - Hoop Houses

Wed, 27 Apr 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Anyone who's ever tried to coax lush lettuce out of desert soils, or harvest a crimson tomato before the first frost, knows how tough it is to garden in the high country of the southwest. But take heart. There's a one-size-fits-all solution: hoop houses.

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Earth Notes - Tamarisk Beetles

Wed, 20 Apr 2011 04:00:00 GMT

For decades people have worried about invasive tamarisk trees in the Grand Canyon and along other southwestern waterways. But now an invasive beetle is knocking the trees back at unexpected speed.

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Earth Notes - Zuni Eagle Sanctuary

Wed, 13 Apr 2011 04:00:00 GMT

For countless generations, Native Americans have used eagle feathers in sacred ceremonies. But federal law closely protects all eagles, and distribution and possession of their feathers is carefully controlled. Now a unique Zuni project is helping to get eagle feathers more quickly to where they're needed.

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Earth Notes - Arizona's Black Hawks

Wed, 06 Apr 2011 04:00:00 GMT

Each spring, common black hawks soar into Arizona skies from their wintering grounds in Mexico. They largely feast on native fish in riparian canyons, but now they've developed an appetite for an invasive species as well.

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Earth Notes: Growing School Lunches, and More

Wed, 16 Mar 2011 04:00:00 GMT

In southwest Colorado's La Plata County, thousands of small hands are cultivating eighteen different school gardens. From preschoolers to high school students, children are participating in the cycle of food and sowing the seeds of their own school lunches.

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Earth Notes - Juniper Pollen

Wed, 09 Mar 2011 05:00:00 GMT

For many people, spring arrives with the sighting of the first wildflower or first robin. But for some, spring brings a problem: it means the arrival of juniper pollen, a common cause of asthma and allergies in the upland Southwest.

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Earth Notes - NAU Green Fund

Wed, 02 Mar 2011 05:00:00 GMT

Students at Northern Arizona University are literally putting some of their own "green" onto the field of sustainability. Last March, NAU students voted to add five dollars a semester to their tuition to finance environmental projects on campus. And that adds up to some real money.

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Earth Notes - Seeing Astronomically

Wed, 23 Feb 2011 05:00:00 GMT

Astronomers have flocked to the Flagstaff area for more than a century because of the good viewing conditions and other amenities. Now a giant new telescope is nearing completion in northern Arizona, in part for those very same reasons.

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Earth Notes - Rattlesnake Bites

Wed, 09 Feb 2011 05:00:00 GMT

Everyone knows rattlesnakes are dangerous. But to say they're simply venomous is as overly simple as it is to say that the Southwest is dry. Medical authorities report that the number of serious rattlesnake bites is rising. Why?

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Earth Notes - Animal Tracks

Wed, 02 Feb 2011 05:00:00 GMT

Sometimes, the greatest dramas in nature involve animals you may never actually see. Their tracks can tell important signs of their survival.

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Earth Notes - Hopi Footprints

Wed, 26 Jan 2011 05:00:00 GMT

For as long as there have been Hopi people, Hopi youth have been learning about their history, customs, and culture from Hopi elders. But passing stories on in traditional ways has become more difficult. But a unique programming is using modern technology to keep those oral traditions alive.

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Earth Notes - Mount Taylor

Wed, 19 Jan 2011 05:00:00 GMT

New Mexico's Mount Taylor has hosted decades of logging, grazing and uranium mining. Now, the mountain that's sacred to many area tribes has been designated a Traditional Cultural Property on New Mexico's Register of Historic Properties. And that's given tribes a formal say in land use on the mountain.

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Earth Notes - Lizard Parthenogenesis

Wed, 12 Jan 2011 05:00:00 GMT

In the world of genetics, variety isn't just the spice of life it's the cornerstone. Genetic variation helps species adapt to environmental changes like drought and disease. For some species, like whiptail lizards, males aren't even needed to make sure that variation occurs.

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Earth Notes: Living at Altitude

Wed, 05 Jan 2011 05:00:00 GMT

Living at high altitude presents challenges for all animals, especially when it comes to the availability of oxygen. Visitors to northern Arizona might notice that they have to breathe harder at high elevation. What they won't notice is the details of the changes going on inside their bodies.

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Earth Notes - Winter Bird Feeding

Wed, 29 Dec 2010 05:00:00 GMT

It's estimated that more than 50 million people feed wild birds in the United States each year. But little research has been done to determine what sorts of food are best for those birds...especially in the winter.

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Earth Notes - Junco Dads

Wed, 22 Dec 2010 05:00:00 GMT

In winter it's hard to miss the dark-eyed junco across much of the Colorado Plateau, and beyond. This sparrow-sized bird is the most common backyard feeder bird in North America. But the more gregarious males don't make the best dads.

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Earth Notes - The Devil's Rope

Wed, 15 Dec 2010 05:00:00 GMT

In 1874 an Illinois farmer named J.F. Glidden patented the invention of barbed wire. Ever since it's been a vital tool in the west for ranchers and other landowners and managers. But the history of barbed wire also has a darker side.

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Earth Notes - Forest Restoration

Wed, 08 Dec 2010 05:00:00 GMT

Jobs are scarce in the rural West, particularly in mountain villages traditionally dependent on forest work. In New Mexico, one bright spot is the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program run by the National Forest Service.

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Earth Notes - Dugout Ranch

Wed, 01 Dec 2010 05:00:00 GMT

The Dugout Ranch sprawls at the door to Canyonlands National Park in southern Utah. One of the oldest cattle ranches in the state, it's now headquarters for The Nature Conservancy's Canyonlands Research Center, which may soon shed light on what we can expect, and how we might cope with, climate change on the Colorado Plateau.

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Earth Notes - Old Spanish Trail

Wed, 24 Nov 2010 05:00:00 GMT

In the first half of the 19th century, the Old Spanish Trail traversed the Southwest as it linked two far-flung Mexican outposts: Santa Fe and Los Angeles. Much of the trail has disappeared, but now there's a new volunteer stewardship program aimed at preserving and better understanding the part of the trail that crosses far northern Arizona.

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Earth Notes - How to be a Trash Detective

Wed, 17 Nov 2010 05:00:00 GMT

In the arid Southwest, discarded cans and bottles can last a long time and they provide archaeologists with important clues about the history of the old buildings and abandoned camps where they're often found.

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Earth Notes - Leroux Springs

Wed, 10 Nov 2010 05:00:00 GMT

In the chilly autumn of 1851, the Sitgreaves expedition crossed the parched cinder field of northern Arizona. Dry-mouthed and desperate for water, the men and mules followed the base of the San Francisco Peaks. To their great joy, they discovered a flowing spring there - Leroux Springs.

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Earth Notes - Aspens Part III

Wed, 13 Oct 2010 04:00:00 GMT

As resource managers work to stem the tide of dying aspen trees across the West, they may do well to look at a small grove tucked away at Navajo National Monument, a remote park on the Navajo Nation about 30 miles west of Kayenta.

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Earth Notes - Aspens Part II

Wed, 06 Oct 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Mother Nature has been beating up on the Southwest's aspen trees but people are helping soften the blow. Coconino National Forest silviculturist Patty Ringle has started a program called Adopt-an-Aspen Fence. It's helping save aspens, but a lot more still needs to be done.

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Earth Notes - Aspens Part I

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Aspens are among the West's signature trees. Their heart-shaped leaves rustle in the slightest breeze. In autumn, those leaves form a golden contrast with the dark green of high-elevation conifers. But aspens are in trouble. Groves all over the west are dying at unprecedented rates.

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Earth Notes - Bristlecone pines

Wed, 22 Sep 2010 04:00:00 GMT

A venerable timberline tree of the Colorado Plateau holds secrets to a long history of environmental change. Bristlecone pines cling to the slopes of the San Francisco Peaks and other high places. And the harsher the conditions, the longer these elegantly sculpted trees live.

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Earth Notes - Vanishing Silence

Wed, 15 Sep 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Have you noticed the world getting noisier? Even in wild places like the Grand Canyon, the sound of silence is becoming scarce.

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Earth Notes - Lonely Tumblers

Wed, 08 Sep 2010 04:00:00 GMT

They're the American West's most enduring symbols of open lonely spaces and of the pioneer urge to wander restlessly and, like many such symbols, they're fairly new here. They're tumbleweeds.

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Earth Notes - Traditional Crops

Wed, 01 Sep 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Some of the Colorado Plateau's longest-established farmers, members of the Hopi and Pueblo tribes, have been cultivating food here for millennia. But they're worrying for their crops, especially their corn, in the face of a very recent threat: genetically modified organisms.

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Earth Notes - Dams and Weather

Wed, 18 Aug 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Dams like those on western rivers may be generating more than just hydropower. It turns out that large dams can do more than just store water and spin electric turbines. New research suggests they can, in some cases, increase local rainfall.

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Earth Notes - Recycled Glass

Wed, 11 Aug 2010 04:00:00 GMT

In 2008, Americans disposed of more than 12 million tons of glass. Only 23 percent of it was recycled. Yet glass is one of the easiest materials to reuse; it can be reshaped into bottles, or ground to sand-like material for other applications.

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Earth Notes - Thomas Moran

Wed, 04 Aug 2010 04:00:00 GMT

He was one of the greatest landscape painters of his time, immortalizing the heroic scenery of the American West. But Thomas Moran's impact was felt well beyond the canvas.

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Earth Notes - Children in the Woods

Wed, 21 Jul 2010 04:00:00 GMT

It's summer vacation - a perfect time to take children out in the woods. Richard Louv, author of "Last Child in the Woods," says our culture's rejection of nature is harming kids in mind, body and spirit.

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Earth Notes - Pasture Restoration Project

Wed, 14 Jul 2010 04:00:00 GMT

A thousand years ago, Sinagua farmers channeled water from Montezuma Well onto their fields of corn, beans, and squash. The area became a national monument until 1943, but cattle continued to graze there until the 1990s. Now, some forty acres of old pastureland beside Wet Beaver Creek are being restored.

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Earth Notes: Sunset Crater Penstemon

Wed, 07 Jul 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Living conditions are harsh among the cinders in the volcanic terrain that spreads northeast of Flagstaff. But for one plant they're an irreplaceable home. The Sunset Crater penstemon, lives nowhere else.

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Earth Notes: Southwestern Cloudscapes

Wed, 30 Jun 2010 04:00:00 GMT

The climate and varied topography of the Colorado Plateau shape many aspects of the natural world, including some on spectacular display high overhead. In the latest installment of KNAU's environmental series Earth Notes, learn about the fantastic clouds that can dominate our skies.

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Earth Notes - Pinedrops

Wed, 16 Jun 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Take a walk in a ponderosa pine forest and you may see a plant that looks like an odd tinged asparagus.

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Earth Notes- Roadrunners

Wed, 09 Jun 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Roadrunners are a Southwestern icon. Thanks to the famous mid-century cartoons by Chuck Jones, this distinctive bird became one of a select group of creatures known as much through its animated presence as through real animals. The real thing doesn't say "beep beep" but it is a pretty intriguing character too.

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Earth Notes - Wild Hogs

Wed, 02 Jun 2010 04:00:00 GMT

In many states including Arizona, wild hogs are being spotted roaming their way around the Southwest.

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Earth Notes - Lava Tubes

Wed, 26 May 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Pitch black and cool year round, lava tube caves might seem like an inhospitable place to call home. But scientists are discovering that lava tubes shelter a surprising variety of organisms, some of which live nowhere else on earth.

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Earth Notes - Green Oil

Mon, 17 May 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Ever wonder what happens to the millions of gallons of motor oil drained from our cars each year in the course of repairs and maintenance? When treated carelessly, it's a major source of pollution to waterways. The EPA estimates that as much as 40 percent of the nation's oil pollution may come from improper disposal of used motor oil by shade-tree mechanics.

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Earth Notes- Rainbow Bridge

Wed, 12 May 2010 04:00:00 GMT

This year Rainbow Bridge celebrates its 100th year since President Taft declared it a national monument.

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Earth Notes - Floating

Wed, 05 May 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Springtime is important for cottonwoods in the Southwest. Snow melt helps these trees survive.

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Earth Notes - Pollen

Wed, 28 Apr 2010 04:00:00 GMT

In the Southwest pollen can cause year round irritation. However it does get noticeably more frustrating for allergy sufferers in the Spring.

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Earth Notes - Cold Frames

Wed, 14 Apr 2010 04:00:00 GMT

The short frost-free growing season in the Southwest can make growing crops through to harvest a tricky business. Savvy gardeners muster all the help they can and many use cold frames, which can extend the growing season by months.

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Earth Notes - Painted Desert Inn

Wed, 07 Apr 2010 04:00:00 GMT

The Painted Desert Inn has been a signature landmark in northern Arizona since the 1920's. But, it's fate has been iffy at times.

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Earth Notes - Too Much Of A Good Thing

Wed, 24 Mar 2010 04:00:00 GMT

Ammonia may be known for its pungent smell. But, it also promotes plant growth. However, new research suggests that too much ammonia can be a problem.

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Earth Notes - Verde Valley Grapes

Wed, 10 Mar 2010 05:00:00 GMT

Agricultural grapes have a surprisingly long history in Arizona, particularly in the Verde Valley and Jerome. The grapes even survived prohibition. Now Verde Valley winemakers are beginning to boom.

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Earth Notes - Tijeras Canyon Wildlife Crossing

Wed, 03 Mar 2010 05:00:00 GMT

Tijeras Canyon near Albuquerque, New Mexico is becoming a safe zone for wild animals trying to cross Interstate 40. That's because of a new wildlife crosswalk made just for them.

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Earth Notes - Fierce Ground Squirrels

Wed, 10 Feb 2010 05:00:00 GMT

Ground Squirrels may seem like innocent woodland creatures. But, when it comes to protecting the nest, they can be more fierce than a rattlesnake.

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Earth Notes - The Backyard Chicken Makes A Comeback

Wed, 03 Feb 2010 05:00:00 GMT

Raising backyard chickens is back in style! Earth Notes explores the growing movement for sustainable, locally-raised food.

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Earth Notes - Pipe Springs National Monument

Wed, 27 Jan 2010 05:00:00 GMT

Pipe Spring National Monument is a cool oasis in the hot desert of northern Arizona. But it might not have stayed that way if a former director of the National Park Service hadn't had car trouble near the future monument.

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A Funnky Looking Fish Fights For Survival In The Grand Canyon

Wed, 20 Jan 2010 05:00:00 GMT

Biologists in Grand Canyon are conducting an experiment on a tiny native fish whose populations have become threatened. In this installment of Earth Notes, we hear about the funny-looking Humpback Chub's fight - and flight - for survival.

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Earth Notes - Dieting on Climate Change

Wed, 13 Jan 2010 05:00:00 GMT

In this installment of Earth Notes, we hear about how climate change can affect the diets of woodland and desert-dwelling creatures.

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Earth Notes - Quicksand

Wed, 30 Dec 2009 05:00:00 GMT

Southwestern washes and rivers are rich in quicksand, thanks to the sand blown, washed, and eroded into streambeds from rocks that millions of years ago formed dunes and beaches. But there's one place along the Little Colorado River that's free from quicksand: and it's no coincidence that's where ancestors of the Hopi settled centuries ago.

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Earth Notes - Grand Canyon Uranium

Wed, 16 Dec 2009 05:00:00 GMT

The colorful rock layers of the Colorado Plateau hide many economically important secrets. One of the most valuable, and controversial, is uranium. Breccia pipes - geologic formations surrounding the Grand Canyon - are the most concentrated conventional deposits in the United States.

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Earth Notes - Carbon Sequestration

Wed, 02 Dec 2009 05:00:00 GMT

Carbon sequestration is an optimistic but untested idea for controlling greenhouse gas emissions. The concept is simple. Carbon dioxide is a primary cause of climate change so why not bury it? Now a test of that idea is coming to northeast Arizona.

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Earth Notes - Turkeys

Wed, 25 Nov 2009 05:00:00 GMT

Celebrating the bounty of Earth with turkeys isn't a new custom on the Colorado Plateau. This big game bird, native to North America, has been an important staple of regional diets at least since the days of the Anasazi a thousand years ago.

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Earth Notes - John Wetherill

Wed, 18 Nov 2009 05:00:00 GMT

This year Navajo National Monument celebrates its one-hundredth birthday. The natural choice for the monument's first caretaker was a local man: John Wetherill respected Indian trader, explorer, and guide in the Four Corners country.

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Earth Notes - Bighorn Sheep

Wed, 11 Nov 2009 05:00:00 GMT

The sight of a bighorn sheep poised on a narrow canyon ledge is always breathtaking. Muscular and lithe, these hooved mammals are majestic symbols of wilderness. But not so long ago, these native sheep were a rare sighting indeed in much of the Southwest.

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Earth Notes - Gambel Oak

Wed, 04 Nov 2009 05:00:00 GMT

Gambel oak grows slowly and doesn't reach great height a 20-footer is a tall one. But while not so mighty in size, it leaves a big mark on the Colorado Plateau.

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Earth Notes - Steam Heat

Wed, 28 Oct 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Energy efficiency is in the news today, but it's not really new. For decades, buildings in one southwestern city were heated by plentiful, locally produced energy. The source was steam from a local utility, the Flagstaff Electric Light Company.

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Earth Notes - Lichens

Thu, 15 Oct 2009 04:00:00 GMT

In the woods and around town, crusty growths cling to bare rocks, hang from tree branches, and hug the ground. Lichens are the hardy colonizers of some of the harshest environments on the Colorado Plateau-from the driest deserts to the alpine tundras of the highest peaks.

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Earth Notes - Pine Needles

Wed, 07 Oct 2009 04:00:00 GMT

We all learned in elementary school that evergreen trees don't lose their leaves. Most conifers, including majestic ponderosa pines, are evergreens.

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Earth Notes - Parks

Wed, 30 Sep 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Look closely at a detailed map of a southwestern forest, and you'll see numerous places labeled as "parks" or "prairies." They're openings in the woods, from the size of a baseball field to miles in extent, where the soil is generally too wet or too dry to support trees. But these meadows are full of life.

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Earth Notes - Just Bad Luck?

Wed, 23 Sep 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Everyone knows you're supposed to take "nothing but pictures" at National Parks. But some visitors can't resist a souvenir. Some of them end up regretting it.

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Earth Notes - Daylight Savings TIme

Wed, 16 Sep 2009 04:00:00 GMT

The 1960s were a time of conflict. Among the decade's lesser-known controversies was one that took place in Arizona, where Daylight Saving Time was designated for the first and only time in 1967.

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Earth Notes - Natural Nutrition

Wed, 09 Sep 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Ripening in summer, the dangling seedpods of mesquite trees are an important food source for humans and animals. They're rich in sugar and protein, as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

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Earth Notes - Aldo Leopold

Wed, 02 Sep 2009 04:00:00 GMT

One hundred years ago, a 22-year-old tenderfoot and new graduate of the Yale Forestry School arrived in eastern Arizona. He came by wagon from the rail head in Holbrook.

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Earth Notes - Puye Cliffs

Wed, 26 Aug 2009 04:00:00 GMT

For more than three centuries, the Puye Cliffs of northern New Mexico were home to hundreds of people ancestors of the present-day residents of Santa Clara pueblo. The soft volcanic rock of the cliffs was easily carved into rooms, handholds, and ledges, while the mesa above provided flat, fortified ground for buildings and gardens.

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Earth Notes - Big Trees

Wed, 19 Aug 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Some nature enthusiast watch birds, others chase butterflies, a growing number look for this countries finest trees. Since 1940 a non-profit group called American Forest has sponsored the national register of big trees

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Earth Notes - St. Elmo's Fire

Wed, 12 Aug 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Lightning is a given during the Colorado Plateau's summer monsoon season. But it's not the only kind of electricity that comes from the heavens. St. Elmo's Fire is a peculiar phenomenon that infrequently, but memorably, shows up at the margins of thunderstorms.

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Earth Notes - Canyon Graffiti

Wed, 05 Aug 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Graffiti isn't something that only happens along inner-city alleyways. Despite advice to leave nothing but footprints, each year thousands of visitors to southwestern natural areas scratch their names into boulders and cliffs rather than into designated trail registers. At Lake Powell and elsewhere in the west, that's had historic consequences.

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Earth Notes - The Calls of the Wild

Wed, 29 Jul 2009 04:00:00 GMT

The aural character of any landscape is unmistakable. For years, University of Utah researcher Jeff Rice has trained his parabolic microphone on javelinas and northern goshawks, grasshopper mice and mountain-dwelling moose. He adds his recordings to the university's Western Soundscape Archive, which he helped found, and which you can access online.

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Earth Notes - Florence Merriam Bailey

Wed, 22 Jul 2009 04:00:00 GMT

In the Victorian era, most woman interested in nature enjoyed the great outdoors from a lawn chair, not astride a horse. But naturalist and writer Florence Merriam Bailey - who spent years studying the Grand Canyon and the San Francisco Peaks - defied convention throughout her long and eventful life.

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Earth Notes - The Summer Monsoon

Wed, 15 Jul 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Colorado Plateau residents eagerly anticipate the arrival of the monsoon season, keeping close watch as cumulus clouds tower into the sky. When the rains finally come, it's cause for rejoicing, for people, as well as for plants and animals.

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Earth Notes - Lynx on the Loose

Wed, 08 Jul 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Over the past decade more than 200 lynx have been re-introduced to Colorado's southern mountains-where they'd become regionally extinct decades ago. More than half of the original animals have died, but others have thrived, traveling into every neighboring state-even into northern Arizona's mountains.

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Earth Notes - Carpenter Ants

Wed, 01 Jul 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Take a break on a fallen tree during a hike through a ponderosa forest, and you might want to take a closer look at where you're sitting. Chances are you're not alone: you might see a large carpenter ant. A single colony, which might contain thousands of workers, can stay in the same comfortable wood nest (or under your home) for up to ten years.

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Earth Notes - Picture Canyon

Wed, 24 Jun 2009 04:00:00 GMT

The Colorado Plateau is a treasure trove for petroglyphs. One hot spot is Picture Canyon in east Flagstaff, where some 700 designs on more than a hundred rock panels line the sides of the canyon. But the canyon has recently been a neglected dumping ground. Now local volunteers and government officials are working together to clean up the canyon.

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Earth Notes - The Missing Rings

Wed, 03 Jun 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Archaeologists have an insatiable desire to tell time. They use every tool they can to get at the ages of artifacts, sites, and entire cultures. One technique that has proven extremely valuable, especially in the Southwest, is tree-ring dating. And the technique has its roots, so to speak, in northern Arizona.

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Earth Notes - G.K. Gilbert, Plateau Geologist

Wed, 27 May 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Geologists have been drawn to the Colorado Plateau for many decades. New York-born Grove Karl Gilbert was one of the first, and arguably one of the most influential, since he named the place.

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Earth Notes - Darwin at the Grand Canyon

Wed, 20 May 2009 04:00:00 GMT

In a place as overpoweringly remarkable as the Grand Canyon, it's no surprise that the canyon's features bear impressive names. Even Charles Darwin makes an appearance. Yet the renowned naturalist never actually saw the great chasm.

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Earth Notes - Durango's Chemical-Free Park

Wed, 13 May 2009 04:00:00 GMT

A couple years ago a small city park in Durango, Colorado, went chemical-free. Durango's one of a handful of cities across the country that's experimented with caring for a park without synthetic chemicals.

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Earth Notes - Powering the Rez

Wed, 06 May 2009 04:00:00 GMT

A program to power the Navajo Nation is meeting real needs with the latest in green technology. The Navajo Utility Authority has powered hundreds of homes with solar-wind hybrid units. The goal is to provide electricity to an estimated 18,000 reservation homes that still lack it.

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Earth Notes - Clarence Dutton

Wed, 22 Apr 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Most everyone associates the name John Wesley Powell with the Grand Canyon. But Clarence Dutton was an equally exceptional explorer, and explainer, of the Canyon's "sublime" geology and geography.

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Earth Notes - Chaco Chocolate

Tue, 14 Apr 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Chocolate lovers have been around a long time. A very long time. That's the news from New Mexico's Chaco Canyon ruins, where residue of the tropical bean from which chocolate is made was recently found in pottery said to be a thousand or more years old.

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Earth Notes - Climate Change IV: Project BudBurst

Wed, 08 Apr 2009 04:00:00 GMT

In the final installment of our series on climate change, Earth Notes looks at a volunteer effort aimed at better understanding regional climate patterns. Project Budburstcan aims to help us all learn to watch for signs of climate change around us so we can both adapt to it and reduce our contribution to it.

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Earth Notes - Climate Change III: Dunes on the Move

Wed, 25 Mar 2009 04:00:00 GMT

As the global climate warms, spring in the desert Southwest is changing. Researchers suggest that the season will get longer, warmer, windier and drier. On the Navajo Nation, that could stir up a rise in dust storms, and put sand dunes on the move.

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Earth Notes - Climate Change II: Marmots

Wed, 18 Mar 2009 04:00:00 GMT

Yellow-bellied marmots are common in the high mountains of the Colorado Plateau. But climate change appears to be causing spring for marmots to arrive earlier. And that's not necessarily a benefit, since snow may still be on the ground, and food may not be available.

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Earth Notes - Climate Change I: Warming the Jemez

Tue, 10 Mar 2009 04:00:00 GMT

In the southwest some of the most profound effects of climate change have been seen in the Jemez Mountains. There has been a large-scale die-off of pi on pines, and researchers are concerned that many species unique to the Jemez may not be able to adapt successfully to rapid changes in climate.

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Earth Notes - Hopi Orchards

Tue, 03 Mar 2009 05:00:00 GMT

Hopi farmers are famous worldwide for the corn, squash and beans they coax out of harsh high desert soils. Now they're also growing fruit-apples, pears, peaches, and more-in new orchards planted by volunteers.

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Earth Notes - Leslie Marmon Silko

Wed, 25 Feb 2009 05:00:00 GMT

Traditional stories "aren't just for entertainment," wrote Native American author Leslie Marmon Silko. "You don't have anything if you don't have the stories." Silko is a member of Laguna Pueblo in northern New Mexico. In 1981, she received the MacArthur "Genius" Grant.

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Earth Notes - Artificial Lights and Wildlife

Wed, 18 Feb 2009 05:00:00 GMT

In a world where true darkness has become rare, biologists are increasingly concerned about the effects of artificial lighting on wildlife. The Colorado Plateau remains one of the darkest spots on the nation's map; but even here, insects, birds, and even large mammals are affected by bright lights.

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