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.

Earth Notes: The Future Of Woody Biomass

Sep 23, 2020

Forest thinning across northern Arizona is generating tons of small diameter wood and slash. Those byproducts have a limited sales market, so last year a team of researchers at Northern Arizona University began a pilot project in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service and the Arizona Department of Forestry.

Populations of desert-dwelling Antelope Jackrabbits have remained relatively stable over the years in southern Arizona. But that is not the case for their high elevation cousins, the Black-tailed Jackrabbit. Their numbers are declining across the southwestern U.S., including on the Colorado Plateau.

Mexican spotted owls are an iconic bird in the pine forests of the Southwest. They are also a threatened bird. On the Colorado Plateau, one of the most significant threats to owls are large, severe forest fires, which are becoming more frequent.

Most people are now highly aware of the enormous quantities of disintegrating plastics accumulating in lakes, rivers, and oceans all over the planet. But those unnatural materials aren’t only found in water.  


The Emory oak is a giant among the pinyon and junipers of Arizona’s high country. Its acorns are special, rich in nutrients and free from the bitter tannins that make most acorns unpleasant to eat. They’re also a culturally important food for the western Apache. Ground acorn sits on tabletops next to salt and pepper shakers, to be sprinkled on venison, rolled into tortillas, or stirred into gravy.