earth notes

Bureau of Land Management

The whoops of cowboys on horseback trailing cattle—What could be more symbolic of the Old West than the sounds of cowboys on horseback trailing cattle? That was the scene for nearly a hundred years along the Magdalena Stock Driveway.


Stephen Eginoire

The Grand Canyon is famous for its complex geology that displays more than a billion years of Earth’s history. Now, park managers are just beginning to explore what’s beneath the visible surface—an extensive maze of caves.


U.S. Forest Service

There were no fire lookout towers in the Arizona of the early 1900s. Instead, early firefighters found tall ponderosa pines near mountain tops or other strategic viewpoints. They fitted the trees with handmade steel spikes—known as lags—that they used as footholds to climb the trees.


Danny Kessler/Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology

Wild tobacco is markedly different from its cultivated cousin. The plant’s chemical properties have been known to Native Americans for a long time. Now, researchers are studying the wild form because of its potency and hardiness in the natural world.


Earth Notes: Southwestern River Otters

Jul 18, 2018
Dan Williams/New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

For millennia, southwestern rivers have harbored an array of native creatures—including a unique subspecies of river otter. These sleek mammals once frolicked in streams and beaver ponds, using impressive swimming skills to hunt fish, frogs, turtles, and occasionally even birds.


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