Hope and Healing in the Desert

We pulled into Lee’s Ferry Campground about 8 p.m. That wasn’t the plan. The plan was to make it all the way to the Kaibab National Forest – land of iconic conservationist Aldo Leopold and our intended home for the weekend. But we were hungry and tired after an eight-hour drive across the desert and several misadventures in the Hopi town of Tuba City: A … Continue reading Hope and Healing in the Desert

How to catch a wolf

First, get up in the middle of the night and drive through the freezing December cold to a wildlife refuge in New Mexico about an hour down the interstate. Then, meet a caravan of biologists and volunteers at an abandoned restaurant right off the highway. When everyone has arrived, follow the line of traffic into the refuge. After you pass through the second gate, abandon … Continue reading How to catch a wolf

West comes east

That tiny dot in the photo is me, hiking across the prairie of Wind Cave National Park in the Black Hills of South Dakota on vacation in September, channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder (whose books I devoured as a kid) and seeking out as much charismatic megafauna as I could. (Tatanka everywhere!) There’s something captivating about the American West; a longing that poet Emily Walters called … Continue reading West comes east

Success story or fluke? The forest lion of Gabon

It was hard not to feel excited when the video footage landed in my inbox a few weeks ago. Researchers studying chimpanzees in the forests of Gabon’s Batéké Plateau National Park had captured footage of a solitary male lion on a remote camera – the first lion spotted in Gabon in 20 years. The national park was fairly young, established in 2002 as one of … Continue reading Success story or fluke? The forest lion of Gabon

Expanding the conservation tent

As I wrote my recent article for High Country News, I felt torn. Like many conservationists, I value biodiversity and natural ecosystems for their own sake, regardless of any tangible benefit they provide to humanity. That’s the argument for saving nature that conservation icons going back more than 100 years have made to help protect America’s wilderness, parks, and wildlife –and the argument that has … Continue reading Expanding the conservation tent

Bird sex and bar stools

Long ago and far away I was a field assistant studying bobolinks for one of my Cornell professors, Tom Gavin, as an undergraduate intern. I went out each morning into dew-drenched meadows at Cornell’s Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point on Oneida Lake, and watched tiny birds that had migrated thousands of miles from their winter home in South America to nest in upstate New … Continue reading Bird sex and bar stools