Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What's That Insect?

With spring in full swing (along with those temperature swings!), I'm seeing more insects, which reminded me I had never gotten around to posting these photos from last fall. Ken Kingsley, a volunteer entomologist at Great Basin National Park, volunteered to lead the Baker School's weekly science class. Their assignment? Bring an insect to class.

The kids brought all sorts of insects (and some non-insects), and Ken helped them figure out what they were and gave them some life history about them.

This tarantula hawk certainly made a huge impression. It's a wasp that captures a tarantula, takes it back to its burrow, then lays an egg on the abdomen. When the wasp larva hatches, it makes a hole in the tarantula's abdomen and feeds voraciously, avoiding internal organs to keep it alive as long as possible. 

Wow, it's a whole another life out there in the wilds of Snake Valley! I've never seen a tarantula in the southern part of the valley, so I thought it was very interesting that a tarantula hawk was found--the tarantulas are around somewhere. Tarantula hawks can also eat nectar, sometimes getting so drunk on it that it affects their flight.

Everyone got a good look at the tarantula hawk.

Melanie brought it to class.

 Here's a grasshopper.

A related insect is this very strange looking one, a Jerusalem cricket. They are native to the western U.S. and Mexico, but aren't seen too often because they're nocturnal. They've got really cool feet so they can burrow underground to eat dead organic material like tubers. They also can eat other insects.

 I think the kids really enjoyed the session.

Daisy looks like she doesn't quite believe what she's hearing.

I was very excited to see this wind scorpion or sun spider. It's an Arachnid, so related to spiders, and it's what the lead taxonomist for the 2013 Arachnid BioBlitz at Great Basin National Park specializes in. She will be delighted to see more of these when she comes out July 8-10. The BioBlitz is a great citizen scientist project open to everyone, so if you'd like to learn more about Arachnids and insects, click on the link!

 We have such a wonderful diversity of wildlife in Snake Valley, and it was really cool to learn more about some of the smallest creatures. Thanks, Ken!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Awesome April Snow -- Plus the Dismal Water Supply Outlook

 We finally got a snowstorm worth talking about! Of course it took till April to get it, but at least it came, dumping a lot of moisture.

 Over a foot of snow was recorded at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center.

 Although it's hard to readjust to the cold temperatures, we sure need the moisture. Here's the Water Supply Outlook (http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/cgibin/bor2.pl?state=nv&year=2013&month=4&format=text):

Nevada State Basin Outlook Report for April, 2013

 NEVADA Water Supply Outlook Report as of April 1, 2013

This year is ending with fairly similar snow and precipitation numbers as 
last year did.  While the Sierra Nevada range started off the New Year with 
phenomenal snowpack numbers, a dry January, February, and March have left 
western Nevada in very dry shape.  The remainder of the state has fared just 
as poorly with dry conditions dominating the region for a second year in a 
row.  A hoped for Fabulous February or even a Miracle March failed to 
materialize, leaving us hoping for an Awesome April to try to recover 
somewhat from the hole the state is currently in.  While reservoir storage 
is adequate for the main populated areas of the state, meeting all water 
needs this summer is going to be very difficult to do, leaving many areas 
facing shortages and having to make some difficult decisions regarding 
irrigated agricultural acreage.  Water users will need to work closely with 
their suppliers to determine the extent of any restrictions that may apply 
this year.  Areas with poor reservoir storage or agricultural areas that get 
their water directly from a river or creek can expect these flows to decline 
earlier than normal this year.

 And here's information specific to Eastern Nevada:

EASTERN NEVADA as of April 1, 2013

Snowpack conditions in Eastern Nevada are well below median.  Snow water 
content is 50 percent of the April 1 median.  Last year, snow water content 
was 55 percent of median.

March precipitation was 26 percent of average.  Water year precipitation, 
beginning October 1, was 76 percent of average.  Last year, March 
precipitation was 82 percent of average and water year precipitation was 82 
percent of average.

Streamflows are expected to be well below average.  Steptoe Creek, near Ely, 
is expected to flow at 26 percent of average or 700 acre-feet during the 
April-July forecast period.

Here's hoping for some more precipitation!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Information about Isaac Gandy

Every once in awhile I get an email from someone who checks out the ProtectSnakeValley.org website.  I'm so thankful that someone actually reads it! This was a very interesting email.

The email was from Eric Gandy, a relative of Isaac Gandy, for whom Gandy, Utah is named. Eric has done quite a bit of research on Isaac, who was the brother of his great great grandfather. You can find more on his website: http://www.gandy.st

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Books about Snake Valley and the Area


Want to learn more about Snake Valley and the area? Here are three relatively new books.

Utah's West Desert by James Garrett (2011) focuses on climbing. Ibex is a world-class climbing area and over one-third of the book is dedicated to it; a large section is also dedicate to the House Range. Routes in Great Basin National Park and the Deep Creek Range also appear. In addition to descriptions of climbing routes, the book includes a large number of photographs and maps, as well as descriptions of the general areas.

The Ordinary Truth by Jana Richman (2012) actually takes place largely in Spring Valley. It's a story of three generations of tough women with the water pipeline project as a large backdrop. I enjoyed reading it, and found myself quickly turning the pages to find out what was going to happen next.

Great Basin National Park: A Guide to the Park and the Surrounding Area by Gretchen Baker (2012) is divided with about one-quarter for general natural and cultural overview of the area; one-third for the park, and the remainder for Snake and Spring Valleys. If you want to learn about some of the hidden treasures and read some amazing stories of local inhabitants, this is the book for you.

To learn more about any of these books, click on the images above.

For a list of books about Snake Valley, click here.

What books about Snake Valley do you particularly like?