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.

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Zion National Park has become one of the busiest, most popular parks in the country. But that wasn’t the case in 1919 when it became Utah’s first national park. Back then, the challenge was how to promote tourism in the remote area.

Kitchens all over the Southwest this time of year are filled with the irresistible scent of tamales steaming on the stove.

Kaibab National Forest

A steel dam near Ash Fork in Arizona’s high desert still holds water after more than a century. It’s a relic of a short-lived era in American history, when dam builders thought steel could replace stone.

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.