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The Missing Colorado River Delta: Rivers, Borders, and Maps

Water flows downhill, and you wouldn’t think that rivers would stop for political boundaries, not even when national borders intersect a river channel’s natural course.  The Mekong flows through China, Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia before it drains into the South China Sea.  The Nile watershed includes Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, and Egypt,…

As Climate Change Reduces Colorado River Communities Must Prepare

Now that a red flag has been raised by the Colorado River Basin Study – a federal and state cooperative analysis published in late 2012 – that there will be water shortages across much of the U.S. Southwest, the handwringing has started. Our cities, farms, and rivers face a slow-motion disaster; what are we going…

Rio Grande is Rio Poco in Big Bend National Park

  Except for the occasional shriek of a raven or the muffled voices of hikers passing on the rocky trail, Santa Elena Canyon was silent. The canyon’s high walls shielded us from the hot Texas sun, which beat down with a vengeance even in November, when I visited Big Bend National Park with family. Our…

Discussing Water Rights, A Western Pastime

In lieu of Freshwater Species of the Week this time around, I wanted to share this postcard I picked up a few years ago in Idaho. Made by Duckboy Cards Inc. of Hamilton, Montana, it pokes fun at an area of tension that has affected much of the dry West, as well as many other…

February 16, 2013: Winter Mountain Climbing, Great Ape Stakeouts and More

This week on National Geographic Weekend, we attempt a winter ascent of Denali for a third time, live with Idaho’s wolves for six years, and wait for months, just to capture a perfect moment in Indonesia’s jungle canopy.

Fresh Piracy Off West Africa Highlights Link to Overfishing

  A few years ago a scientific survey was released that mapped out where fisheries were being depleted around the world.  This was about the same time that pirates from Somalia achieved a large degree of prominence by seizing a cargo ship full of tanks, with news reports bemoaning how global shipping lanes brought cargo…

Will Modern Phoenix Outlast the Prehistorical Hohokam?

    Darell Duppa, a late nineteenth century pioneer of the American Southwest, may barely warrant a historical footnote, but he left one memorable legacy: he named the capital city of the state of Arizona. With a classical education and five languages under his belt, Duppa was no typical Western pioneer.  He drank and gambled,…

Clean Energy the Solution to Western U.S. Water Woes

Cleaner energy sources could help solve Western U.S. water shortages, according to a report released this month by the nonprofit Western Resource Advocates. In many arid western states, water is already a precious commodity rationed among farmers, cities, recreational areas, and critical habitat for hundreds of species–many of them threatened or endangered. As climate change…