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Climate Change: The Most Important Issue of Our Time, Summed Up in Cartoon Form

I always enjoy Bird and Moon‘s creative take on nature, but today’s new work by cartoonist Rosemary Mosco (a fellow alumna of the Field Naturalist program) is one I had to share:

There’s no way to put this gently: climate change is the most important issue of our time.  It is the most important moral issue.  The most important economic issue.  The most important ecological issue.

I’m glad to see climate change finally getting the attention it deserves in the media.  Now let’s seriously rethink our lifestyles and act already, shall we?

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Feeling Thankful for Cranberries’ Quirky Evolution

For Thanksgiving, a quick post singing the praises of that humblest fruit, the cranberry.

Growing up, I never cared for the gelatinous cranberry sauce my relatives turned out of a can each year at Thanksgiving.  The wobbly, alarmingly-colored goo made me leery of cranberries for years, in fact.  I didn’t discover the delights of dried cranberries until my early twenties, when I started studding my oatmeal with them at breakfast.  And it wasn’t until last Thanksgiving that I discovered how I love to eat fresh cranberries: minced into a relish with a whole orange and a bit of sugar, no cooking required. Read more

Something’s Fishy in Yellowstone Lake, Part II

On July 30, 1994, an angler caught a white-spotted fish, just shy of 17 inches long, in Yellowstone Lake. The accompanying guide identified it as a lake trout, a species previously undocumented in Yellowstone Lake, and notified park rangers. Less than a week later, a second lake trout of similar size was caught and reported. As news of the find hit the media, more people came forward to report lake trout.

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Something’s Fishy in Yellowstone Lake, Part I

Yellowstone National Park recently announced that it had removed over 300,000 lake trout from Yellowstone Lake during its summer 2012 gill-netting operations.  Yes, that’s three hundred thousand of the non-native, predatory fish pulled out of the lake, all in a single season.  And many of them are real whoppers, like the one held by Park Service fisheries biologist Phil Doepke in the NPS photo at left.

Where did all these lake trout come from?  Why does the park want them gone?  How has the lake trout’s presence in Yellowstone Lake affected other organisms, such as the iconic cutthroat trout? Read more

The First Snowy Day

The Badlands just disappeared. From where I sit next to my kitchen window, I can usually lean slightly to my right and have a nice view of the formations to the north. They have been fading for some time now, first veiled by fog, then whitened by falling snow. The big flakes, carried nearly horizontally by the prairie winds, are now falling thickly enough that the buttes and spires a quarter of a mile away have vanished.

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In Badlands, a Bird of Winter: Townsend’s Solitaire

Townsend's solitaires are fairly common in Badlands National Park and the surrounding areas in the winter months. You don't see them just anywhere, though. They tend to hang out in places where juniper trees cluster. In Badlands, that generally means places like Cliff Shelf or Deer Haven—areas where the steep badlands formations have slumped, leaving a ledge of relatively level ground. The gentler topography of the slumps retains a bit more moisture, allowing the growth of a shrubby woodland. This is a rarity on the prairie, where the climate is generally too harsh and dry for trees.

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