Earth Notes

The Colorado Plateau is one of North America’s human and environmental treasures. Ancient cultures have called this land of sun-baked deserts and lush mountain landscapes home for centuries. Earth Notes, KNAU’s weekly environmental series, explores the Plateau by telling stories of the intricate relationships between environmental issues and our daily lives.

Rooted in science and wrapped in human interest, the two minute long segments encourage listeners to think of themselves as part of the solution to environmental problems. Upbeat and informative, the program tries to foster hope and dampen despair about the environment, and motivate listeners to become more conscious and informed stewards of the Colorado Plateau.

Tom Till Photography

Rainbow Bridge National Monument in southern Utah is a place where Earth and sky meet, connected by a giant natural stone arch. By day the archway echoes the shape of a rainbow: by night, it mimics the Milky Way.  The monument is also a certified International Dark Sky Sanctuary, a designation reserved for rare, remote locations with little or no light pollution. There are only ten such sanctuaries in the world, four of them in the United States.

Arizona State Museum Photograph Collection, University of Arizona

By the turn of the 20th century, few Anglos had laid eyes on many of the Southwest’s natural wonders. Knowledge of Rainbow Bridge, Monument Valley and what would eventually become Zion National Park remained mostly with area tribes. Archaeological sites like Mesa Verde in southwest Colorado were also largely unexcavated.

Bruce Pavlik/the-journal.com

Stone metates at an archeological site in Utah still bear faint traces of the native Four Corners potato. It’s the leftovers from a meal that happened more than 10,000 years ago.


D.C. Lightfoot/UNM

A rapidly changing climate means there’s no longer a “typical” year on the Colorado Plateau. That’s confirmed by a long-term study of bugs in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico.


Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

Sometime next year the skyline of Page will look very different. That’s when the owners of the Navajo Generating Station plan to demolish the three 775-foot smokestacks that, in the last four decades, have become synonymous with the area’s otherwise iconic natural beauty.


Pages