Help save the grasslands – Prescott, Arizona

A consortium of government agencies wants to hear from the public about its plan to try to protect and restore Central Arizona’s dwindling grasslands.

The meeting is in Prescott, AZ on Thursday, June 5.

“The health of these grasslands is critical for a number of species,” said Dee Kephart, habitat specialist for the Game and Fish Department’s Region 3 office.

The agencies signed the grasslands strategy in 2010 and update it every year so they can work together on common goals. The strategy covers about 750,000 acres and uses pronghorn antelope as an indicator species about the health of local grasslands.

“Pronghorn are an ideal species to examine because they are so closely tied to this type of habitat,” Kephart said. “They are heavily dependant on their eyesight, so open spaces are critical.”

North America’s central grasslands are considered one of the most threatened ecosystems on the continent and in the world, the strategy notes.

See on and Twitter Pass 11,000 and Twitter Make Their Numbers:  11,000+

Scoopit LogoThanks to all the 11,000 animal–nature–science fiction lovers who visited my paper and followed my Tweets.  You are so good-looking–just fabulous!


This week, “Nature Conservation & Science Fiction:  #EcoSciFi” passed 1,000 views, and Twitter passed 10,000 followers.

Real People

Spam is unavoidable on Twitter, but I have culled many off-topic fans, and I am confident that most of the 11,000 visitors and followers are people with genuine interests in animals, nature, science fiction, and writing.  Spam is not yet an issue for my paper.

Thank you!

Now would be a good time to visit #EcoSciFi and @Garry_Rogers and see what’s new.  I would be delighted to have your participation.


Mule Deer and Fawn at Coldwater Farm

Mule Deer at Coldwater Farm

During the long drought this spring, several mule deer visited Coldwater Farm near the Agua Fria River in central Arizona.  A lone doe became a resident, and browses in the yard in the evenings and mornings.  In early August I saw a fawn bouncing about beside the doe.  Yesterday, the fawn was racing about in the cow pasture while the doe watched.

There are no cows at the farm.  The cow pasture is fallow and covered by weeds taller than the fawn.  Getting good photographs is almost impossible.  In the picture below you can probably see the fawn’s spots, but not much else.

Mule Deer Fawn

Mule Deer Fawn at Coldwater Farm

Mule Deer Doe

Mule Deer Doe

The Mule Deer doe has been much easier to photograph.

Over the past 15 years, deer have visited the farm only twice, and the visits lasted just one day.  There were always dogs in the past, and now that the last dog died, deer are free to roam about the farm, and so they do.

Mule Deer Eat Almost Everything

Deer are fond of domestic roses.  When we moved to the farm in 1997, I planted 175 hedge and climbing roses in hopes of attracting deer.  The previous visitors took a few rose leaves and hips, but now, at last, the roses are being seriously browsed.  The deer like other plants too, and seem to browse all the woody plants on the place.  They especially like grape leaves, but they also eat willow, plumb, desert hackberry, and mulberry.  They also to eat a variety of weeds.

None of the woody plants have been harmed.  Perhaps the local winter and spring droughts will get worse and the deer will begin damaging the plants.  The trees and grapes are too tall for the deer to reach a significant portion of the leaves, but they might strip the bark.  Before that was necessary, the human farm manager would do his job to save the plants, and bring in hay.

Click here for more about the mammals at Coldwater Farm.

Tell me about the mammals you see.

To My Readers: My New EcoFiction Novel

Dear Readers,

1-IMG_3661This blog focuses on wildlife conservation.  While writing and posting notices about wildlife I have worked on a novel with an underlying nature conservation theme.  The novel uses the theme as the matrix for action, adventure, danger, and romance.

The novel takes place on an Earth where intelligence evolved long before humans appeared.  Genes, memes, intelligence and social evolution are foremost forces for nature conservation.  Through them, the novel’s underlying theme catalyzes the conflicts and constrains the characters.  I don’t think this explains why characters in the story like humor so much , and why they often give humor precedence over other elements of social interaction.  Everyone thinks he is . . . .

Some of the new posts appearing here will describe the novel’s contents and characters.  There will be guest posts and interviews of authors of similar works, and there will be posts about the mechanics of writing and publishing a novel.  Posts on wildlife will continue to appear.

Print and e-book versions of the novel will be available in a few weeks.  I hope you will read the story and recommend it to the readers you know.

Rating: This is science fiction without sex or profanity.  There are some violent scenes and a few bad jokes.

Thank you.


Contact me:  [contact_form lang=en]

Black-Hawk Has A Busy Day

Wildlife Notes from Coldwater Farm

Common Blackhawk

Common Blackhawk

At noon today the Black Hawk nesting in the Cottonwood grove back of the stock ponds flew over chasing a Red-tailed Hawk.  Sorry I missed filming the hawk, but he was moving low and fast when he passed me.  Minutes later the Black-Hawk shot by hot on the tail of a Green-backed Heron. There’s probably much more going on that I don’t see.  Click for more on this Black Hawk.

Other events for April:

  • The first bullfrog bellow (4/30).
  • The pair of Gray Foxes has moved on.
  • A solitary javelina stopped in.
  • Longest tailed Tiger Swallowtail (Papillo multicaudata) I’ve ever seen (4/29, 30).  Tails last only a few days.
Tiger Swallowtail

Tiger Swallowtail

Bird Arrivals:

  • The first nesting attempt by grackles (too noisy, they get chased off every spring).
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Black-headed Grosbeak.
  • Black Phoebe (Three for the lawns, and several for the ponds).
  • Lesser Goldfinch (not the occasional winter visitors, a real flock).
  • Summer Tanager.
  • Lazuli Bunting.
  • Western Kingbird.
  • Yellow-breasted Chat (with a new call that sounds like my cat meowing at the door).
  • Yellow Warbler.
  • And more that I glimpse briefly here and there.

More on Birds:

  • Only two ducks and four American Coots remain, down from 200 in January.
  • The Barn Owl was out early yesterday evening (4/29).  I was glad to see him.  Two weeks ago a large tree blew down frightening both the owl and me.  Glad he stuck around.
Barn Owl

Barn Owl


Living Near a Superfund Site

Soil, Water, and Plant Toxicity From the Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter

The Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter

The Iron King Mine and Humboldt Smelter

Mining near Humboldt, Arizona began in the mid 1800’s.  The Iron King Mine operated from 1904 until 1969 and produced a huge pile of waste rock and tailings.  The Humboldt smelter was active from the late 1800’s until the early 1960’s.  Like the mine, it produced a large pile of tailings.

The EPA conducted testing near the two sites and determined that there was a health risk for people, animals, and plants.  Some cleanup took place in 2006, and the two sites were placed on the National Priority List in 2008 (

After the Super Fund Site designation, I asked to be included in the preliminary testing for toxic materials in soil and water.  The EPA representative told me that there was no need to do testing around my home.  My house is about 1 1/4 miles East-Northeast of the main tailings pile.  At the time, I supposed that the scientists involved considered my home to be a safe distance from the tailings.  According to the 1500+ page Remedial Investigation Report of 2010 (, no samples were taken more than about a mile from the Sites. Continue reading

Open Space Meeting

AFOSA Neighborhood

AFOSA Neighborhood

Open Space Meeting Invitation.

You are invited to attend the annual meeting of the board of directors of the Agua Fria Open Space Alliance (AFOSA).  The meeting is on Saturday, January 19 at 10:00AM at the Agua Fria Health Center, 12150 E. Turquoise Circle, Dewey-Humboldt, AZ  86327.

There will be an open discussion of open space resources and issues.  Take this opportunity to learn about open space and your organization, the Agua Fria Open Space Alliance.

Refreshments served!

Click to download the agenda.

 Open Space Meeting Minutes

Click to download the minutes of the meeting.

Email me:  [contact_form lang=en]

Wildlife Conservation in Central Arizona

AFOSA Founding Directors

AFOSA Founding Directors

Wildlife conservation begins with observation.  The Agua Fria River Basin is a great place to see wild animals in natural habitats.  Developers are eying the Basin, and have ‘mega’ plans to fill the space with streets and houses.  But for now, we only need to step out our doors to see native vegetation, birds, and insects.

This blog reports sightings and background information on nature conservation and general wildlife topics.  You can click ‘comment(s)’ at the end of the line under each post title to post a comment, and if you ‘read more’ you will find a comment space below the post.  You can also sign up to post your own observations.  Remember to include when and where when you write a comment. Continue reading