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New Mexico's Birds - Climate Change is Here

New Mexico has some of the best birding in the country, although challenges threaten many species and force others into unfamiliar habitats.

April 2021 – New Mexico Magazine

EARLY LAST SEPTEMBER, I walked up from the wetlands at Río Fernando Park and onto the streets of Taos. I’d passed the afternoon photographing a pair of Cooper’s hawks and a massive great horned owl along the banks of the little creek that cuts through the center of town.

The hawks didn’t seem to mind. The male glanced my way, then returned his focus to the grassy bank of the creek, where, I was sure, he’d spotted dinner. I held my breath, waiting for the bird to pounce. He did, falling in a rush of brown and white into the grasses and lifting just as quickly to a scrag of Russian olive, where he dined on a plump mouse.  Read >>


Land Back

Taos Pueblo recognizes the fiftieth anniversary of the return of Blue Lake
Fall 2020 – El

On a frigid February day in 2019, representatives from New Mexico’s Carson National Forest and the Taos Ski Valley invited members of Taos Pueblo to join them on a ride to the top of Kachina Peak. Kachina is a rocky, snow-dressed 12,841-foot mountain that towers over Taos’ world-famous ski resort. It is also an important spiritual landmark for the people of Taos Pueblo. Read >>


Call of the Plains

Finding perspective in northeast New Mexico, home to some of the best bird-watching in the nation.
September 2019 – New Mexico Magazine

ON A BLUEBIRD MORNING IN MAY, Tony Godfrey pulls his pickup off a steep gravel road winding through a stand of ponderosa pines. The New Mexico State Parks ranger slings his Canon 60D over a shoulder and straps binoculars to his chest. Then he leads me to the rim of Mills Canyon, looking for a bright red bird. Actually, several bright red birds. And a blue one. Read >>

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Kristina Ortez on "fear, loathing, love"

March 2019 – Taos News

The following conversation took place February 14, 2019, between Kristina Ortez, and writer and photographer Jim O’Donnell. Ortez and O’Donnell have been friends for over five years. O’Donnell currently works part-time as the communications and policy director for the Taos Land TrustRead >>

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Why TV Meteorologists are talking about beer, chocolate, peaches and poison ivy.

March 2018 – Ensia

“Beer is mostly water, right?” the Springfield, Missouri, reporter says. “One of our local breweries gets the water they use from a nearby lake. Well, because temperatures are going up there has been an algae bloom in the lake. It’s not a dangerous bloom — but it impacts the taste of the water and, of course, the beer.” Read >>


How to Build a Park, Community Style!

In late 2015, the Taos Land Trust nonprofit purchased the 20-acre Amos F. Romo family farm not far from the tourist-filled Taos Plaza. Rumors swirled that a high-end condominium complex was destined for the farm, which had been abandoned for nearly 40 years. Read >>

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Meet the Rural Advocates for Keeping Federal Lands Just the Way They Are

March 2017 – Sierra Club

Jimmy Sanchez, the 55-year-old farmer and mayordomo of the Acequia de la Sierra de Holman Arriba, tells me stories of the old days. His tales are laced with old New Mexico Spanish as we wade through ankle-deep snow up one of the brazos, or branches, of the ancient irrigation system. “If there is water, the people are happy,” he says. “Wilderness protects the water.” Read >>

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The Return of Park Ranger Diplomacy

April 2017 – Sierra Club

It is autumn in the mountains of central Europe. Scatterings of beech trees light the forest in yellows and reds. Vlado Vançura, a former park ranger for Tatra National Park, points up a narrow, twisting valley toward one of the oldest stands of spruce in the park. The spruce are draped in light-green moss. They’re so tall they block out the sunlight. Read >>

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After 350 million piñons die, scientists fear for this forest’s future.

September 2017 – Ensia

Among the rolling mesas north of Taos, New Mexico, a lush piñon pine tree reaches skyward from a rocky slope. John Ubelaker bends to its base and counts the number of branches swirling from the ground to the crown. “Young one,” he says of the tree. “It’s about 20 or so years old. Lucky one, too. It survived the dieback.” Read >>

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How Vulnerable Are We to Collapse?

September 2017 – Sapiens

Along the cottonwood-lined rivers of southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, the Mimbres people did something unique: By the year 1000, these farmers were producing stunning ceramics decorated with naturalistic images of fish, people, and rabbits, as well as magical creatures and elaborate geometric patterns. And then, rather abruptly, they stopped. Read >>

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The Big Business of Europe’s Migration Crisis

June 2016 – Sapiens

After three months in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, Famara (who requested his last name not be used) left for the Gourougou mountain forest of northern Morocco. Wearing nothing more than shorts, a blue jean jacket, and flip-flops, the diminutive Senegalese man joined a makeshift camp comprised of dozens of West Africans hiding in the mountains between the town of Nador and Spain’s North African city of Melilla. Read >>

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Aimed at Refugees, Fences Are Threatening European Wildlife

December 2016 – Yale Environment 360

A flood of migrants from the Middle East and Africa has prompted governments in the Balkans to erect hundreds of miles of border fences. Scientists say the expanding network of barriers poses a serious threat to wildlife, especially wide-ranging animals such as bears and wolves. Read >>

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80% of Europe’s wildlife habitat is at risk: Here’s what’s being done about it in Slovakiav

November 2015 – Matador Network

On a dark, plunging slope thick with spruce, Austrian wolf biologist Gudrun Pflueger and a local forest ranger by the name of Vlado Vançura are poking at — and sniffing — a pile of feces… Read >>

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Climate Change Adaptation: Under the Tuscan Sun.

April 2014 – Vrai Magazine

“We have always trusted in nature to take care of us,” said Andrea Meini, the agronomist for the Cantine Leonardo da Vinci, a wine-growers cooperative in Italy’s Tuscany region. Read >>

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In Leopold's Footsteps

July 2014 – New Mexico Magazine

There is a sulfur bog and a series of burping ponds in a little valley on the south end of the Valles Caldera National Preserve. The aquamarine ponds that feed the marshy area below the valley emit a very particular rottenegg smell. Read >>

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