City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

June 1, 2017

May 31st

Filed under: Birds, Butterfly, Light — canopus56 @ 5:17 pm

Evolution of Butterflies

7:00 p.m. I only spend a few minutes in the canyon today, listening to the sounds of birds as they respond to the long sunsets. Light fades now near 8:30 p.m.

* * * *

Butterflies, as compared to birds, evolved relatively recently. They are believed to have evolved about 40 to 50 million years ago at the same time that the flowering plants that they feed on had a major radiation. About 35 million years ago as the first butterflies evolved, the melting of the Farallon Plate as it passed under Utah resulted in a volcanic era, and volcanoes formed in west central Utah around present day Tintic, Utah (January 7th). City Creek Canyon’s volcanic breccia layer between picnic sites 6 and 9 formed at this time. In 2010, Roe and colleagues reviewed the state of phylogenetic studies that reconstruct the evolution of butterflies, but unlike Pacheco and the first birds, no clear timeline for each divergence of orders could be created (Roe et al 2010).

* * * *

A May 31st, 1994 Salt Lake Tribune article on increased Salt Lake valley canyon recreation crowding, republished a 1986 quote from Gale Dick, a long-time canyon activist and co-founder of Save Our Canyons, regarding the nature of the Salt Lake valley canyons, including City Creek,

“It is time to recognize the public lands in the Wasatch Mountains as Salt Lake Valley’s magnificent de facto public park. The mountains and canyons provide year-round recreation and the simple pleasures of forest, streams and mountains to visitors on a scale exceeding that of Yellowstone Park. After watershed protection, what should be the over-riding goal of the Salt Lake County Canyons Master Plan? Simply this: To keep the canyons available year-round for predominantly local citizens’ recreational use without excessive cost, crowds, urbanization or machinery.”

On May 31st, 1907, the Salt Lake Telegram noted heavy recreation use in City Creek, at Saltair, and at Lagoon.

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