1152 Chapters
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Chapter One. Native Landscapes of the Intermountain West

Susan E. Meyer Utah State University Press ePub

Leo penstemon

To design beautiful and functional native landscapes, the first step is to learn to look at landscapes in nature and to begin to understand why they look the way they do. Even intuitively obvious truths about intermountain landscapes need to be given some thought. For example, all westerners know that, to escape the heat of summer, a picnic in the mountains is generally a good approach. In the winter, we know that we can head for the desert to escape from the snow. Plants respond to these climate differences at least as much as people do. The native plant communities in high mountain valleys are completely different from the plant communities in the desert country, where people often go to seek winter sunshine.

As you drive up into the mountains from towns nestled in the valleys at their feet, first the low sagebrush steppe vegetation gives way to foothill communities characterized by small trees like gambel oak and bigtooth maple, or to a pygmy evergreen forest made up of juniper and pinyon pine. Further up, patches of quaking aspen and white fir or lodgepole pine start to appear, interspersed with meadow communities of grasses, low shrubs, and an abundance of wildflowers. If you are driving up a canyon with a year-round stream, you will see the difference right away between the streamside vegetation, which is very green and lush, and the hillsides above, which support shrubs and grasses found in much drier environments. Often, arriving in the aspen/white-fir or lodgepole pine zone is enough to relieve the heat of summer, but if the road continues to wind upward, it will pass through evergreen forests of sub-alpine species of spruce and fir, until at last it reaches timberline and breaks out into alpine tundra, the dwarf community that lives on the high, windswept ridges that are too harsh to support trees.

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5 Leave Bambi in the Forest

Andrea Dawn Lopez University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter Five

He was sure the fawn was abandoned. The man was working with a construction crew, clearing undeveloped wildlands to prepare the area for a large office building that was going to be built. One evening as he was leaving work, he noticed a fawn wandering around and looking disoriented. The little guy was at the edge of the field they had just cleared. The man guessed that the bulldozers had disrupted the fawn and scared off the mother. He was probably right.

The man knew already to leave the fawn alone in the area where he found him. He knew that the mother may be nearby, ready to return for the fawn at any time. He left the fawn there overnight. But the next day, the man found the fawn in the same spot, still wandering around and looking disoriented.

The fawn looked weaker than he had the previous evening. The mother was nowhere in sight. The man continued to work throughout the day, all the while keeping an eye on this little guy. When it was time to go home that evening, the man picked up the fawn and brought him home.

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15 Disaster on a Mexican River, 1966-1967

Richard Westwood Utah State University Press ePub

In 1966 the Bureau of Reclamation had a bill introduced in Congress that would allow it to construct two hydroelectric dams in the Grand Canyon.1 The proposed Marble Canyon Dam would be located above the Grand Canyon National Park boundary, and Bridge Canyon Dam would be in the lower part of the gorge near Mile 235. At that time only a fraction of the Grand Canyon was included in the existing Grand Canyon National Park. Bridge Canyon Dam, as proposed, would extend a reservoir thirteen miles into Grand Canyon National Park.

The integrity of the park was threatened according to the Sierra Club, who rather than remain on the defensive mounted a counter-offensive. In April 1966 they sponsored legislation that would enlarge the park to include the entire canyon and would specifically prohibit any dams or diversions between Lee’s Ferry, where the canyon begins, and the Grand Wash Cliffs, where it ends.

Other conservationist groups followed suit. Hugh Nash, editor of the Sierra Club Bulletin, wrote:

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A Prickly Friend

Lynn Marie Cuny University of North Texas Press PDF

A Prickly Friend

In only a few weeks, spring will be tinting the treetops green and the wildflowers once more will cover the Texas landscape. Already the sparrows are flitting about gathering bits of dried grass and discarded feathers to construct this year’s nest for their soon-to-be-laid eggs.

Baby opossums have bravely ventured out of their mothers’ pouches and are clinging tenaciously to their backs. All of these harbingers of spring do not seem quite so real when you look at the calendar hanging on the wall. But today is warm and sunny and if we are hit with an end-of-winter blizzard, as we were over twenty-five years ago, we might be surprised with late-winter, early-spring babies.

In February of 1980, all of Central Texas was enjoying springlike weather; the days were sunny and breezy, the nights cool and calm. The weather forecasters were confident that the Arctic front that had slammed into the Midwest would have little effect on our part of the world. Not surprisingly, they were mistaken. Early one morning just before daybreak, the wind shifted, and when it did there were no more cool breezes. Now in their place were ice-chilled gusts of no less than thirty miles per hour. The severely cold wind would have been enough to convince us that winter was still present, but Mother

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Medium 9781574415278

Conclusion: A Last, Great Place

Gary Lantz University of North Texas Press PDF

Conclusion: A Last, Great Place

A spring day, cool and party cloudy. A morning in the mid-forties that’s morphed into the seventies by mid-afternoon. Rain fell the week before, and the Wichita Mountains grass is green, flowers bright red, blue, and yellow, buffalo calves a playful reddish orange, prairie dog pups the color of pale sand and as frisky as little terriers.

A perfect day, basically, to be in one of the nation’s oldest managed wildlife refuges, and visitors have descended in droves.

The parking lot is full at the prairie dog town bordering the main east–west road through the refuge. A camera club from Oklahoma

City, represented by maybe a dozen members, stalks the lively little rodents, tripods poised like shotguns in the hands of trap shooters.

The prairie dogs are cooperating mainly by their sheer fecundity.

New pups seem everywhere. One burrow holds three, heads out, scanning the crowd. Others either wrestle with littermates or cling tightly to their mothers. It looks like a good year, population-wise, for the prairie dog colony, but members of the photo club are worried. “Where are the mothers,” one concerned woman asks a fellow photographer. “All I’m seeing are little pups.”

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