What a great bunch of programs that we went to today. The members of the Peregrine Fund
and other agencies involved with the Condor Release Project came to our camp today.
This is an amazing project that spans many agencies and private organizations and individuals. The BLM (Bureau of land Management), Forest Service, National Park Service, a private land owner named Maggie Sacher (who owns the land that the release pens are on at Vermillion Cliffs and operates the Vermillion Cliffs Lodge and who feeds and takes care of the team of researchers that keep track of the condors), and the Peregrine Fund: all of these folks work together to blur the lines between agencies and individuals to operate this project.
The thing that I found most fascinating is the use of the Endangered Species Act (EPA) to help preserve these birds, yet not infringe on the landowners and persons who use the public lands by denying them the use of the land. This project falls under a subsection of the act called “10-J” (referring to the section of the EPA) that designated the condor release as an “Experimental/Nonessential Release”, which cannot affect existing uses of the land. This helped to smooth the way for this project.
For more information about the California Condor and the release project click here
. There are now more condors living in Arizona than there were alive in the whole world in 1980.
We then went down to the BLM site near the base of the Vermillion Cliffs and some of the folks saw condors circling far far away, but sadly, not I. Chris Parish, the Peregrine Fund biologist that tracks the birds and releases them, gave us a great talk bout the project. I did see the release pens through the spotting scope.
Then last night Connie Reid, the archaeologist/historian for the North Kaibab Ranger District gave us a wonderful slide show about the rock art at Snake Gulch and other places here in the Kaibab Plateau. Most of the images were from 900-1200 years ol, yet they are still visible and bright. You can see some of these images at this private site
or at the Forest Service site
The presentation was wonderful. I hope that we see some Rock Art as we go onto the plateau. But we must be aware that these are very fragile resources that belong to all of us, so if you see any Rock Art, please remember to take only photographs and to not touch them, as the oils from your hands will discolor or even erase the pictures. I hope that my great grandchildren will someday be able to see these magnificent pieces of pre-history “in the wild”, and not locked up in a museum somewhere, or just as a photo in a coffee-table book. There is something that touches your soul when you come across a piece of rock art while hiking: it is almost like the artist just left, and you are the first to see it. Wondrous and awe-inspiring. What did that ancient artist mean with his or her art? Was it a ritual or just as a way of expressing inate human artistic ability and creativity?
These lands belonged to them once, and now they belong to us. We must preserve them.