Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Phoenix's Peach-Faced Lovebirds

It was just about ten years ago when I first noticed a couple of peach-faced lovebirds sitting on the telephone line in my east-central Phoenix backyard. I thought at that time (these unknown parrots) must have escaped from a neighbors cage and wouldn't make it through the winter.

Also at that time, I didn't know what these type of "parrots" were until I researched them further on the Internet. Other people were beginning to see them in their yards too and shared their sightings.

But, as time went on, I kept noticing more of these lovebirds over the years. I've even seen a flock of them roosting in the trees along the canal located just north of Camelback Rd, between 32nd Street and 40th Street. It looks like they've adjusted well to living around here.

They're beautiful birds, very colorful and lovely to watch, but can be irritably noisy, especially in a big flock. You know, like some women. They don't sing the beautiful songs like my treasured friends, the Mockingbirds. But still nice to have around. You know, like some women. ;-)

Hopefully, they'll soon spread to my new neighborhood in west-central Phoenix.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Worth of Water

The story of the American West is a story of water, and of our Herculean efforts to capture and spread that water across an arid landscape. As our western cities continue to grow, however, we need to find ways to curb our thirst.

In this mini-documentary, ASU researchers talk about the West's water history, our current situation, and some social and technological options for the future.

Read more at - ASU: Decision Center for a Desert City

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Keep It Sustainable | YAP!

The Youth Ambassador Program of New Bedford challenges you and me to "Keep it Sustainable." Learn how to live a sustainable lifestyle and lower your carbon footprint while bobbing your head to this catchy hip-hop tune.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Surf the High Desert Wave

I'm not what you'd call an "advanced" hiker, preferring to hike the easy-to-moderate trails found closer to where I live. I haven't hiked anywhere "too" challenging just yet either.

But one day I'd really like to "Surf the Wave". However, I know that being able to hike the wave will require some luck, a lot more effort, and a great deal of preparation on my part. I tend to be a little risk-averse, especially in a wilderness area far away from any help. The last thing that I want to do is to "wipeout" and become a victim of the "heat wave".

The Wave has become a popular attraction in the Coyote Buttes area of the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness on the Arizona/Utah border. Coyote Buttes is a Special Management Area of the Paria Canyon/Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness. The Wave is a multi-colored chute that has been cut into a sandstone mountain. It makes a great destination for a short, moderately difficult day hike.

It has become one of the most popular destinations for many people visiting the Colorado Plateau. It is colorful but fragile Navajo Sandstone slickrock. The attraction is the thin ledges that swirl in wild contours of color and stone that are Coyotte Buttes North very brittle and breakable.

The Wave has grown as a national attraction over the years due to the many published photographs and other media coverage of this small area. Nature has fully used its imagination to converge with the appreciation of our individual minds in all their variety of thought and wonder. But, see for yourself -

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Making The Case For Zero Waste

It's amazing just how much trash humans can generate. It's a problem alright, but imagine how much better our environment would be if we simply made the effort to dispose of our trash properly?

Source: Pick Up America

Friday, August 9, 2013

Think Outside The Bottle

I volunteer my time picking up trash along the parks and trails that I frequent here in Phoenix, and I've got to say - I simply can't understand why so many people feel the need to trash the fragile scenery of our hiking trails? You wouldn't believe the amount of trash I find along the trails.

Can you guess what's the most-littered item of trash that I pick up? Cigarette butts!

Yep, I said cigarette butts. I didn't realize that so many smokers hiked. I've picked up thousands of butts. It's seems counterintuitive for hikers to smoke, but I've even picked up butts located at the summit of mountain trails. Who would have figured? Climbing a mountain to have a smoke. Crazy.

But what really ticks me off is finding discarded plastic bottles along the trails, the type of disposable bottled-water bottles sold at grocery stores. I mean, really, who doesn't have the energy to carry out their empty drinking water bottles? It grates on my nerves.

Disposable water bottles come in a close second to cigarette butts in terms of items littered, but they're the most unsightly (and uncalled for) type of litter. They stick out like a sore thumb in the desert scenery, and just like cigarette butts, they're NOT biodegradable.

I know that it's almost impossible to enforce, but I think disposable water bottles and other types of single-use plastic bottles should be banned from ALL parks and trails. They're ruining the landscape. Right now, only some of the National Parks have banned disposable plastic water bottles, but things could change if we would just think outside of the bottle.

Source: 10 reasons why national parks should buck the bottle

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Petrified Forest National Park

When I talk about brain-frying heat, this is the time of the year that best describes it.

The Phoenix metropolitan area is projected to reach records highs by the end of this week, touching into the 120s in some parts. It's a dangerous time to be outside for any prolonged period of time and definitely not enjoyable, especially if you're not wearing your energy dome.

So, why not consider taking a long weekend trip to escape the heat and experience some of the wonders of nature that the northern Arizona high country has to offer?

Perhaps something like the Petrified Forest National Park located in Holbrook, AZ where daytime highs aren't quite as bad, and the nights are comfortably cool.

Petrified Forest National Park from Andrew Kearns on Vimeo.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Leave No Trace

I'm volunteering my time to help clean up the trash found along the Maxine Lakin Nature Trail this weekend, and thought I'd share bit of information for those unfamiliar with hiking protocols.

There's an old adage in hiking and camping - Leave No Trace. Common hiking courtesy is to leave the area better than you found it, almost like you were never there.

Leave no trace is about making good decisions to protect the world around you - the world we all enjoy. Please do your part to pass our nation’s heritage of outdoor recreation to future generations while enjoying our beautiful Sonoran Desert.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Keep Church and State Separate

Just a video shout-out to any of the religious right-wing legislators in Arizona who just can't seem to maintain that boundary between church and state.

Arizona, like the rest of America, is a melting pot of people from diverse ethnic, cultural, racial, and religious backgrounds. An elected representative's job is to represent their constituency as a whole, regardless of religion. Let's keep church and state separate, like the constitution dictates, and not use your public position to further your own personal religious agenda, okay?

Source: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Saturday, May 18, 2013

White Tank Mountain Regional Park

I volunteered about three hours of my time this morning to help "trail blaze" one of the trails located at White Tank Mountain Regional Park (WTMRP). Located in Waddell, far west of my central Phoenix home, I didn't think I would ever take the time to visit this county park. But, a volunteer opportunity gave me the motivation to get out there and see it.

The trail blazing part wasn't easy work. For the most part, it involved filling wheelbarrows up with dirt and rocks, then pushing them up a slightly steep trail grade about 1/2 mile, and repairing the washed out parts of the trail. Good thing it was relatively cool out this morning!

But, after we finished for the day, I decided to hike one of the easier park trails (Black Rock Trail) and enjoy the views. I have to say, I was impressed with all WTMRP has to offer.

It's a newer park (about two years old), with a large and beautiful, high-tech, nature center and library located at it's entrance. What a great place for a library! And the park was also a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Nearly 30,000 acres makes this the largest regional park in Maricopa County.

Like many other Maricopa County Parks, WTMRP has many different trails with varying degrees of difficulty, but all with great views of the landscape and wildlife. They also have many Ramadas with picnic tables and grills throughout the park, and plenty of water stations and restrooms.. great for a family day out or picnic. There are more than enough parking spaces.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Desert Dreams | A Short Documentary

A film created without narration or people, Desert Dreams lets viewers experience the Sonoran Desert from the inside out. This immersive 52-minute production focuses on beauty and biodiversity followed through a cycle of five seasons: Dry Summer, Wet Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring.

Long-time resident of Tucson, Arizona, Producer-Director-Cinematographer Thomas Wiewandt blends HD video and time-lapse imagery captured over the past 4 years with stills compiled over 3 decades. And the supporting sound track combines natural sounds with a kaleidoscope of flute and percussion vignettes by Gary Stroutsos.

After a full year of editing, Desert Dreams has brought 182 species of plants and animals to life. Its big-screen debut in Tucson, Arizona is scheduled for May 19, 2013 at the historic Fox Theatre.

Video Trailer for DESERT DREAMS from Wild Horizons® on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It's National Park Week

I'm a little late in announcing this, but April 20-28 is National Park Week. There's still a few days left to take advantage of it. There are no entrance fees to any of the national parks until Friday, April 26th.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bombing Arizona

In Arizona, most people don't like graffiti taggers. But a growing number of artists choose graffiti to express themselves or tell a story. And each has a reason.

Bombing Arizona, a documentary now showing at the Arizona Film Festival.

Reel from Ricardo Bracamonte on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

San Tan Mountain Regional Park

San Tan Mountain Regional Park is pretty cool, huh? Ranger Adam Martell explains where the park is located and what it has to offer. BTW, that wasn't a Gila Monster, it was a chuckwalla.

Consisting of over 10,000 acres, the southeast Valley park is a fine example of the lower Sonoran Desert. The park ranges in elevation from about 1,400 feet to over 2,500 feet. Goldmine Mountain is located in the northern area, with a spectacular San Tan Mountain escarpment in the southern portion of the park. The vegetation changes from creosote flats to dense saguaro forest.

Source: San Tan Mountain Regional Park and East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hiking In Phoenix

Did you know that, according to National Geographic, the City of Phoenix is one of the top cities in the country for hiking? Phoenix’s desert preserve system contains more than 30,000 acres and has close to 200 miles of trails located within the city limits.

Here's Part 1/5 of a DiverseCity video presentation describing the various trails.

Watch the entire video series: [Part 2][Part 3][Part 4][Part 5]

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Year in Hate and Extremism

The number of conspiracy-minded antigovernment “Patriot” groups involving the American radical right reached an all-time high in 2012, the fourth consecutive year of powerful growth by a movement that is becoming increasingly militant as President Obama enters his second term and Congress debates gun control measures, according to a report issued today by the SPLC.

28 of those "Patriot" groups are reportedly located in Arizona.

Source: SPLC Extremism Report 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Gadsden Purchase

The Gadsden Purchase
How many time have you pulled your auto into the rest stop located between Casa Grande and Phoenix, and not think twice about the historical significance of the place in which you were about to stretch your legs or take a leak?

I was just watching The Desert Speak's presentation of the Gadsden Purchase on AZPBS. Little did I know that if it wasn't for often-forgotten James Gadsden, Americans wouldn't be taking for granted our portion of the beautiful Sonoran Desert.

The Sonoran Desert, one of North America's largest and driest, takes its name from the Mexican state of Sonora, now located to the south of Arizona. Until 1853, however, Sonora's boundaries extended all the way to the Gila River. In this year the United States pressured Mexico's President Antonio López de Santa Anna to sell 30,000 square miles of northern Mexico to the United States for ten million dollars. Included in this sale were the villages of Tucson, Tubac, and San Xavier del Bac as well as Aravaipa Canyon and the future grounds of Camp Grant, all of which would be incorporated into the new territory of Arizona.

Finalized in 1854, the Gadsden Purchase, or Treaty, was an agreement between the United States and Mexico, in which the United States agreed to pay Mexico $10 million for a 29,670 square mile portion of Mexico that later became part of Arizona and New Mexico. At about 33 cents per acre of Sonoran (and Chihuahuan) desert and mountains, undoubtedly both Mexico and the U.S. would agree that the Gadsden Purchase was a bargain for the U.S.