City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

August 21, 2017

June 14th; Revised, Reposted

Filed under: Foxglove beardtongue, Horsechestnut, Seasons, Western salisfy, Wild carrot — canopus56 @ 2:20 pm

The Web-of-life

Expanded to summarize ecological relationships between soils, plants and animals in the canyon.

6:45 p.m. This is the last day of the vernal season, or the time of the year in which plants grow at their greatest rate (Feb. 16th). An early heat wave near 100 degrees Fahrenheit has fallen on the city, and I have come to the canyon for a short run in the cool evening air. At the end of the vernal season, early spring flowering plants in the first mile have largely passed and their thickened ovaries grow pregnant with this year’s seeds. Wood rose blossoms are shriveled or have have dropped their leaves, revealing bulbous green spheres beneath. The largest of these are the infant berries of the chokecherry bushes. Western salisfy, also called Giant dandelion, has almost all gone to seed. Its blossom have transformed into a large compound head of achenes – larger version of dandelion weed seeds. The small floating seeds grow out equally spaced from an inverted saucer-shaped head. A result of the large floater seeds competing for limited space is that the giant dandelions’ spherical heads form geodesic dodecahedrons.

The base leaves of the Wild carrot (also called Fernleaf biscuitroot) plants that line the first mile have turned turned yellow and orange, and their blossoms have formed seeds that are turning from green to a light purple. Their fibrous tap roots extend beneath the surface for about a one foot, and they were widely used by First Peoples throughout the Intermountain west (Natural Resources Conservation Service 2011). Great Basin Indians ate the seeds and boiled the roots to make a drink. Other tribes used the first shoots in a salad (id). Modern city “foodies” also collect the plants.

A new delicate penstemon, Foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) has appeared overnight along the road. This is an eastern native, and in the canyon, it first appears with white flowers that turn a streaked pink as the flowers age. This is a later spring replacement for the many failing flowers along the first mile. Horsechestnut trees now bear sprays of its spiked fruit, but these new fruits are miniature one-inch diameter versions of falls’ three inch spheres. This year’s growth has returned and the land is pregnant.

This is the last day of my experience of an ecological year in the canyon, and with a new sense of awareness and knowledge, I can feel the canyon’s web-of-life between its some 310 species and families of life (Index). The web begins with the soil that is makes up its ground, and that the nature of that soil begins with the canyon’s geologic formation. West of the Rudy Flat Fault and Freeze Creek near mile 4.3, the soils are Tertiary limy sand and sandy earth, and in the lowest first mile of the canyon, the land around the stream is overlain by deposits from ancient Lake Bonneville. These were formed by a 100 year old mountain range in Nevada that eroded eastward into present-day Utah and that created the sandstone cliffs at milepost 1.0. These lands west of the Rudy Flat Fault are also lower and drier, and thus, the land supports a drought tolerant Wasatch chaparral of Gambel’s oak trees away from the stream and a Rocky Mountain lower montane habitat closer to the stream’s wetness. East of the Rudy Flat Fault, geologically lower strata that consist of limestones have been lifted to higher altitudes, and, thus, those wetter lands support a Rocky Mountain upper montane habitat of pines, firs, spruces, and aspen trees.

Rain and microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and lichens, break down rock and soil to release nutrients to diverse and abundant plant life. Hungry trees signal the fungi in the their roots and beneath their shade to breakdown needed extra minerals from deficient soils (July 1st). The trees also talk between each other directly with airborne chemicals and via subsurface networks of fungi to coordinate their defense against disease, insects, and herbivores (July 1st). The trees summon beneficial insects and birds with chemical scents to feed on nectar or seeds (July 2nd). In a square meter from 10 kilometers above the ground and down to 4 kilometers below the surface of the canyon, there are trillions of protozoans that interact with the geophysical environment (December 20th). Between 84,500 and 169,000 earthworms along the first road mile churn and overturn the soil beneath the trees between every 6 to 10 years (March 23rd).

Plants are winning the evolutionary war with animals (June 30th), and this is evidenced by their use of toxic chemicals to limit mammals, birds and insects to consuming at most twenty percent of their mass each year. The 100ft tall, older Narrowleaf cottonwood trees, their hybrids, and Box elder trees comprise as much as twenty-percent of the biomass of the first mile road forest, and their shade over the stream provides beneficial conditions of the lower montane habitat that supports a diverse insect, bird and mammal population.

The principal plant producers that support the next higher trophic level of insects, birds and mammals are the Gambel’s oak forest and grasslands of Cheat grass, native Wild bunchgrass, and native Bluebunch wheatgrass (July 7th, March 5th). The oaks yield tons of acorns each year (August 30th) and in the late spring and early summer, the grasslands support at most 310 million House crickets (July 6th) and a lesser number of several types of grasshoppers. Engelmann spruce and other conifers provide another base of seeds in the upper montane habitat higher in the canyon. Algal mats and mosses in the stream support a massive population of Gnats (e.g. August 11th). Hidden in the understory of the streamside forest are as many as 126,000 flies hide (May 10th).

Primary consumers of grasses include Mule deer, Elk, and Shira’s moose (moose, August 27th), House crickets and grasshoppers. Primary consumers of the bounty of seeds include Rock squirrels, Mule deer, Western scrub jays, Black-billed magpies, Stellar’s jays, Black-headed grosbeaks, Wild turkeys, Song sparrows, Mountain chickadees, Black-capped chickadees, and Black-hooded juncos. Primary consumers of the bounty of gnats include Variegated meadowhawks and cliff swallows (August 11th, August 22nd). Crickets are also hunted by Desert tarantula. Other consumers of the bounty both gnats and crickets include the many small birds who overwinter or who in the spring reproduce in the canyon including Lazuli buntings and Yellow warbler.

Flowering plants also support a diverse community of primary nectar consumers – butterflies and bees. These include white cabbage , Western tiger swallowtail, Mourning cloak, Painted lady, Spring azure butterflies, and native tri-colored Central bumble bees. These, along with common flies, are preyed upon by Variegated meadowhawks, Blue-eyed darners, Common whitetail dragonflies, Bald-faced hornets, Western yellowjacket wasps and Praying mantis. Butterflies favor the streamside bushes, and Orb weaver spiders fish for gnats, mosquitoes, and butterflies by stringing silken nets just above the stream’s surface (June 25th).

At the pinnacle of trophic levels reside the consumers of consumers including small and mid-sized birds and mammals by Peregrine falcons, Cooper’s hawks, Red-tailed hawks, and Western screech-owls. At the pinnacle of trophic levels also reside consumers of larger mammals. These include Coyotes, Mountain lions and Homo sapiens.

The stream supports trout and its agal mats attract Mallards. The trout are principally preyed upon Homo sapiens rarely assisted by Belted kingfishers. Although anglers follow catch-and-release best practices, about one-quarter of released fish die from the stress of the experience.

Animals and plants die and their waste needs to be recycled. Larger carrion removers include Turkey vultures, American crows and Common ravens. Flies, protein hungry Bald-faced hornets (August 20th), and ants assist. Carpenter ants consume fallen logs. Bacteria and fungi finish the job for both plants and animals.

I can only take in a small part of the canyon ecology’s totality, and taking in the limited part that I can perceive is more than my mind and emotions can absorb. I cannot see it all at once; I am spent; I am exhausted; but I am still smiling.

* * * *

In Thoreau’s “Journal” on June 14th, 1852, he notes that “[t]he twilight seems out of proportion to the rest of the day.” On June 14th, 1851, he lists birds heard on a twilight walk including bobolink, swallows, fifteen whippoorwills, blackbirds, a robin and night hawk. He contrasts the evening song of the robin with crickets, and notes fish rising in a stream to feed on insects. On June 14th, 1852, he sees a wild rose bush. On June 14, 1853, he hears the season’s first locust and observes aphids on tree leaves. He sees white lily, blue-flag flower, mosquitoes, and fish in the stream. He sees hummingbirds and hears a cuckoo, a red-eye, and a wood thrush. On June 14th, 1854, he sees a cicada. On June 14th, 1859, he sees a grosbeak and a pout’s nest.

* * * *

A cousin of Foxglove beardtongue, Common foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), is the source of digitalis heart medication. Digitalis is commonly used to strengthen the contractions of the heart muscle in the aged.

* * * *

On June 14th, 1914, the Salt Lake Tribune describes various outdoor hikes around Salt Lake City, including to Big Black Mountain. On June 14th, 1908, the L. H. Murdock of the U.S. Weather Service reported a storm with one-half inch of rain and heavy snowfall in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Tribune). On June 14th, 1908, Mayor Bransford, City Engineer L. C. Kesley, Waterworks Superintendent Hobday and Street Supervisor Jake Raleigh discussed steps to abate current flooding from City Creek Canyon (Intermountain Republican). Raleigh defended his use of manure embankments to contain the flood waters (id).


July 1st; Revised, Reposted

Talking Plants – Part I – Hidden Scents, Hidden Networks

Revised to include plants talking to each other by subsurface common mycorrhizal networks.

2:00 p.m. In the heat of the afternoon, it is another butterfly day. Cabbage white and Western tiger swallowtail butterflies line the road. Families stroll through the heat on a holiday weekend.

It is also the time of mature trees. The giant trees of the canyon – those taller than seventy-feet – now dominate the canyon experience. Species include Box Elder trees, Rocky Mountain narrowleaf cottonwood trees and Freemont’s cottonwood trees (Populus fremontii). They now provide a partial canyon that protects the mid- to small-sized trees and the understory bushes from the harsh summer sun. Walking past one of these biological skyscrapers, one can feel the increase in humidity from their exhalations. In winter, their skeletons are ignored and when walking up-canyon during the cold season, one does not give them a passing thought.

At Guardhouse Gate, Black-headed grosbeaks and Lazuli buntings dominate. At picnic site 3, Song sparrows are prominent, and at third active zone of birds appears at milepost 1.1.

At seep below picnic site 6, the Starry solomon’s seal has, in seemingly a few days, been overrun by Western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii). It is now a deep green, and in the fall will turn a deep red (Sept. 23rd).

* * * *

Per Thoreau’s “Journal” on July 1st, 1852, he notes that rabbit’s foot clover is turning colorful, mulleins are turning yellow, wild roses are at their peak. He describes a white lily in depth. He hears a red-eye, oven-bird and a yellow-throat. On July 1st, 1854, he again notes that the edges of distant objects are distinct in clear air. He watches the shadows of clouds moving across the land. On July 1st, 1859, he notes white ranunculus is in bloom.

* * * *

Plants communicate with each other and with insects by volatile airborne chemical signals in order to coordinate defenses against herbivores (Hartley 2010, Hartley 2009, Alba 2012, Engelberth 2012, Heil and Karbon 2009, see Witzany and Baluska (ed) 2012). Experiments suggest that Box Elder trees, the Gambel’s oaks, the bushes of the understory, the Curly dock weeds, the Starry Solomon plants, the sagebrush, and the other plants currently active in the canyon are carrying on a conversation, unheard by human interlopers. Experiments have been done on plants outside species of the Gambel’s oak forest, but one example exists for communication between the sagebrush groves along east Bonneville Drive. In 2011, Shiojiri at Kyoto University, Karban at University of California at Davis and Ishizaki at Hokkaido University replicated and expanded Karban’s 2006 study on Great basin sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) plant communication (Shiojiri, Karban and Ishizaki 2011). They found that the neighbors of sagebrush plants mechanically damaged with scissors but allowed to spread VOCs suffered less damage from grasshoppers than sagebrush plants not allowed to receive VOC emissions from the damage sagebrush. In short, sagebrush plants talk with their sagebrush neighbors and warn them to start producing insecticides to ward off grasshoppers. In 2008, Mäntylä et al at the University of Bristol demonstrated that birch trees issue volatile airborne chemicals, not detectable by humans, when attacked by caterpillars. To control scents, they contained some damaged branches in plastic bags, but left other branches exposed. Birds preferentially visited and attacked branches where trees’ VOC scent was present. In short, their Great Britain birches talk to birds. Although the specific species in investigated in Great Britain are not present in the canyon, the canyon hosts Birchleaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus Raf.). In 2011, Mäntylä et al demonstrated a similar effect in Scottish pines (Mäntylä et al 2011). Engelberth notes that some plants use VOCs to signal predatory insects, e.g. predatory wasps, that they have been damaged by insect herbivores that are preferred foods of the predator insect (Engelberth 2012).

Plant species talking between themselves, with other species of plants, and with insects and birds may have arisen by conferring an evolutionary advantage (Heil and Karban 2010). By alerting its same-specie and inter-specie neighbors, sagebrush, for example, can create a herd-like resistance to grasshopper attacks. Similarly, by talking with insects and birds, plants create co-evolutionary relationships that benefit both the plant and associated insect eating birds (id., Engelberth 2012). Through 2010, Heil and Karban summarize known examples of plant “talking” with VOCs (id). In this Great Basin canyon, such communication has only been shown specifically for Great basin sagebrush, but Heil and Karban also list known plant VOC demonstrations for families of plants whose cousins are also present in the City Creek Canyon, including willow trees, sugar maples, poplar trees and alder trees. That the other trees and other plants present in City Creek Canyon are talking to a each other seems a reasonable extrapolation, but demonstration of their VOC communication remains to be shown by future researchers.

Trees also may be talking with each via networks of fungi that permeates the soil beneath the trees. That tree roots make complex associations with fungi has been known for many years (Lanner, pp. 98-100), but with respect to canyon and Wasatch Front Mountain Range trees, this has only be studied extensively with respect to Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii), and even then, studies were performed principally in Washington State. When trees and fungi form associations, they are called mycorrhiza, and such associations are broken down into two parts. First, when fungi merge with interior of a root, they are termed arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), and second, when fungi form fungal mats underneath and around the roots, they are termed ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF). When AM or EM fungi connect between trees, they form a common mycorrhizal network (CMN). There can be more than 200 species of fungi that participate in arbuscular mycorrhizal association with a single plant. In this symbiotic relationship, fungi, for example with respect to Douglas firs, release additional nutrients from the soil that increases the firs’ ability to grow (Cline 2004), and conversely, the trees manufacture and provide unique nutrients to the fungi that they cannot obtain from the soil such as glucose. Thus, although trees can grow without an AMF or EMF, they grow slower and with less vitality (Cline). The CMN is formed by long hypae, or narrow primitive vascular tubes – that are characteristic of fungi. AMF or EMF associations occur in 80 percent of terrestrial plants.

A recent hypothesis suggest that the common mycorrhizal network of AMFs that provide a pathway by which chemical information is exchanged between trees (Barto et al 2012). Under this hypothesis, plants coordinate their defense against insects and disease using the CMN, and experimentally, this has been shown to occur in AMFs for three invasive grasses (id). Gorzelak and colleagues at the University of British Columbia extended this theory to EMFs (Gorzelak et al 2015). Once again, new modern biochemical and genetic analysis techniques provide insights into the complex life of seemingly simple trees. In 2015, Song and colleagues found in British Columbian forests where they artificially defoliated Douglas firs chemically signaled Ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) through the EMF-CMN. The pines responded by issuing stress chemicals. Thus, two different species of trees “talked” with each other over a fungal network.

Both Douglas firs and Pondersa pine are found in the Wasatch Front Mountain Range generally, but not in the canyon specifically. Given that eighty-percent of species and over ninety-percent of families of pldants form AMF and EMF associations, many of the other unstudied trees with AMFs and EMFs in the canyon, like the oaks and maples, may also be talking between themselves over fungal networks. But this is supposition, a “just so” story, and confirmation of whether the canyon’s trees along the first road mile awaits future research by biologists.

* * * *

On July 1st, 2001, City Planning Director Stephen Goldsmith notes that a gate has been added at Memory Grove to control traffic (Salt Lake Tribune). On July 1st, 1997, a small grass fire broke out near Memory Grove (Salt Lake Tribune). On July 1st, 1925, a Salt Lake Telegram editorial approved of the City’s use of “hoboes, drunkards and indolent men” on the prison road work crew then working in City Creek Canyon. On July 1st, 1920, twenty-five service men convalescing at St. Marks Hospital will be given a picnic outing in City Creek Canyon (Salt Lake Herald). On July 1st, 1919, a Salt Lake Telegram editorial reported that a large fire had been burning in City Creek for several days (Salt Lake Telegram). The Telegram reported rumors that the fire may have been started by I.W.W. members (id). (Famed I.W.W. organizer Joe Hill had been previously executed in Salt Lake City in November 1915.)

Table of Lists

Filed under: Uncategorized — canopus56 @ 10:58 am

The table of lists is ordered date beginning with the estival season on June 15th. The referenced dates are in parentheses.

• Exemplar Trees at the University of Utah, Westminister College Emigration Creek Natural Area and Miscellaneous that Correspond to Trees in City City Creek Canyon (2017) (July 19th)

• Lichens (July 21st)

• Bird and Insect Nests Found in the First Two Miles of City Creek Canyon on December 1st-7th, 2016, supplemented December 23rd, 2016 (December 10th)

• Permanent and Intermittent Springs and Seeps Found in the First Mile of City Creek Canyon on January 20th, 2017. (January 20th)

• Common Native Plants by Habitat (March 5th)

• Non-Native Plants found in the Biologist Surveys (April 3rd)

• Biophilia Values (April 26th)

• GPS Locations for Flowering Cultivar Trees for Miles 0.0 to 2.0 (N=17) (Apple and Plums) dated April 27 to May 2nd, 2017 (May 4th)

• Common Spring Butterflies (May 10th)

• Possible Plant Hosts for Butterflies and Their Caterpillars in City City Creek Canyon (May 19th)

• Spring Birds in City Creek Canyon March through May, 2017 by Order and-or Family (N=54) (May 20th)

August 9, 2017

Table of Essays

Filed under: Other, Uncategorized — canopus56 @ 9:00 pm

About ninety daily entries contain mini-essays on historical events and scientific research related to City Creek Canyon generally or to the topic of the daily narrative, but the existence of these essays is not always apparent from the title of the daily narrative. This separate Table of Essays provides a supplemental table of contents for those materials grouped by subject.


• June 15th: What are the different definitions of the seasons in popular culture, astronomy and ecology?

• November 13th: Cross-quarter holidays occur when the speed of change in the length of the day is minimal.

• March 20th: What is the relative light energy that falls on the canyon on the winter solstice as compared to the other seasons of the year?

• May 13th: How did nearby supernovas and novae influence the evolution of life on Earth?

• May 13th: What is the orbital path of the Solar System through the Milky Way and through the local supercluster of galaxies over the next billion years?

Biology, generally

• November 12th: Trout have nearly 180 degree vision.

• December 10th: What bird and wasp nests are in the canyon?

• December 20th: How many cells are there in one meter rectangular parallelepiped between 4 kilometers below the surface of the Earth, including a human standing on the surface, and to 10 kilometers above the surface?

• December 21st: How do the number of cells in the human brain, the number of neural connections in the human brain, and the number of stars in the visible universe compare?

• March 23rd: How many earthworms live along the first mile of canyon road?


• July 1st: How do plants talk with each other and to insects in order to coordinate plants’ defenses against parasites and herbivores?

• July 2nd: Why do plants emit strong fragrances in the early spring but not in the summer?

• July 3rd: Part I – The Gambel’s oak forest in the canyon and surrounding the Salt Lake Valley are hybrids and are not pure oak stands. They are second generation crosses of Gambel’s oak ad Arizona shrub oak.

• July 4th: In the Salt Lake valley, there are rare hybrid first generation crosses between Gambel’s oak trees and Arizona shrub oak.

• July 5th: The Gambel’s oak forest consist of second generation hybrids of Gambel’s oak trees and Arizona shrub oak.

• July 17th: How do plants transport seeds uphill?

• July 19th: Cottonwood trees in the canyon are, like the Gambel’s oaks, also principally crossed hybrids.

• July 19th: What are the common trees in the canyon and where can example of those trees be found in the city?

• July 21st: What lichens can be found in the canyon?

• October 11th: When do deciduous trees, including Gambel’s oaks loose their leaves?

• October 19th: What edible plants exist in the canyon?

• November 3rd: What are the aerodynamics of helicoptering maple seeds?

• December 6th: Utah lichens cannot be used as an indicator for Salt Lake air pollution.

• February 10th and February 11th: What are characteristics and distribution of a Gambel’s oak tree?

• February 11th and February 12th: In the canyon, what are the hybrid crosses between the Gambel’s oak and Arizona scrub oak?

• February 13th, February 14th and May 9th: Since Gambel’s oaks reproduce asexually, are they essentially immortal like aspen trees?

• March 17th: What kills old, large-diameter Narrowleaf cottonwood trees in the canyon? How are large diameter trees important to the canyon’s ecology?

• May 5th and June 1st: When do various temperate forest tree species leaf-out in the spring during the spring?

• June 5th: Horsetail pollen has the ability to walk.

• June 8th: What percentage of animal species engage in metamorphosis during development?

• June 10th: When did invasive Cheat grass arrive in the Salt Lake foothills? Can the foothills be restored with native grasses?

• June 10th: Does the Fibonacci series appear in whirls of thistles and other plants in the canyon?


• June 23rd: What are the various habitats in the canyon by increasing altitude?

• June 24th: Since 1870, has the Gambel’s oak forest been increasing downslope along the canyon’s foothills?

• July 7th: During 1850 to the 1930, early Utah ranchers in the pursuit of eighty percent profit margins in cattle grazing, transformed Utah’s and the canyon’s native grasslands from native grasses to invasive Cheat grass. How that environmental disaster may have contributed to the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

• December 22nd: What are the trophic ecological levels of the canyon?

• March 3rd to March 6th: What was the natural state of the canyon and Salt Lake valley prior to arrival of the Euro-American colonists in 1848?

• May 10th: How much animal dung do flies remove from the canyon? What is the mass of flies along the first mile of canyon road?


• June 19th: In a modern temperate forest, when did various plants and animals first appear in the geologic record?

• June 30th: Are plants defenseless or are they winning a 300 million year evolutionary war?

• November 5th: One-hundred and forty-five million years ago, how did flying insects and web spinning spiders co-evolve?

• May 30th: Did modern bird groups evolve before or after the KT extinction?

• May 31st: When did butterflies evolve?

• June 2nd: When did flowering plants and trees evolve?


• September 1st: What geologic faults exist in the canyon

• September 8th: What is the Grandview Peak landslide?

• December 24th: What is the geology of natural rock bridge at mile 0.9 and the Red Bridge?

• January 3rd: What is the geology of the canyon between Guardhouse Gate and the natural rock bridge at mile 0.9?

• January 5th: What caused one mile long landslide in the canyon at mile 1.5?

• January 6th: Where are the shorelines of ancient Lake Bonneville in the canyon?

• January 7th: How did the subduction of the Fallaron continental plate under the North American plate between 110 and 35 million years ago create the present day geography of the Great Basin, of Utah, and of the canyon? Where in the canyon are the volcanic breccia deposits from Utah’s volcanic era about 35 million years ago?

• January 9th: What are the geologic strata seen a cross-section of the Wasatch Front Mountain Range between City Creek Canyon on the north and Big Cottonwood Twin Peaks on the south?

• February 15th: What did the canyon look like 12,000 years ago in the Pleistocene and where humans present?

• February 21st: How much of the canyon’s surface consists of dust that fell from outer space? When jogging four miles, how many grams of space dust do you breath?

• March 2nd: What is the Anthropocene?

• March 19th: How City Creek stream transported about 1.5 billion tonnes of sediment (0.008 cubic miles) to the City’s delta over the last 11,000 years.

• May 14th: How did earthquake faults make City Creek Canyon in the north Salt Lake valley salient different from the south Salt Lake valley salient at Traverse Mountain?


• June 18th: How accurate was the first location of the Salt Lake Base Meridian marker? In 1879, How were the modern survey township and range section markers located?

• June 28th: How has the civil and social advancement of women reflected in changes in clothing of female bicyclists?

• July 24th: In 1871, how General Philippe Régis Denis de Keredern de Trobriand averted a massacre in the streets of Salt Lake City.

• July 12th: Do the Mormons have special religious or cultural values that are disposed to preserving nature?

• November 30th: How the Utes and Goshutes taught the Mormon colonists to survive by eating Sego lily roots and thistles.

• January 21st: How Salt Lake City tried and then missed the opportunity to have an Emerald Ring park found around many eastern United States cities.

• March 6th: In December 1848, the colonists form a committee of extermination that kills 3,374 mammals, birds and other wildlife in the valley.

• March 7th: What First Peoples where in the canyon and valley on the arrival of the Euro-American colonists in 1848? What major cultural factors determined the relationship between the Mormons and the valley’s Ute tribal members?

• March 8th: In January 1850, the colonists form a committee of extermination to kill the remaining 150 Ute Tumpanawach band First Peoples in the Salt Lake and Utah valleys. On February 13th, 1850, the colonists massacre those First Peoples at the Battle of Table Mountain, Utah in, what in modern terms, amounted to a war crime.

• March 9th: The economic miracle of the United States and of Utah between 1800 and the 1960s can be explained simply in terms of equity capitalization and not in terms of exceptional abilities.

• March 10th: Did City Creek have enough water to support the initial 5,000 Euro-American colonists of 1847?

• March 11th: When designing Salt Lake City, the Euro-American colonists of 1847 underestimated the flood cycles of City Creek Canyon.

• March 20th: What was the legal basis for Brigham Young’s control of the canyon from 1847 to the 1870s?

• March 21st to March 30th: How was City Creek Canyon exploited for its natural resources?

• March 28th: How did 14,000 deaths from typhoid fever in Salt Lake City during the late nineteenth century drive residents to protect City Creek Canyon as a natural area?

• April 1st: In the 1980s, the City adopts a master plan and zones City Creek Canyon as a protected natural and recreational area.

• April 4th: How did public and business interests fight for City Creek Canyon during the nineteenth and early twentieth century>?

• April 5th to April 7th: Will and how will the canyon be protected from development in the future?

• May 28th: How will Utah’s population change in the future?

• May 29th: When and how was Memory Grove Park constructed in the lower canyon as a memorial to Utah’s war dead?


• July 6th: There may as many as 310 million crickets in the canyon and in the city foothills.

• July 16th: From the 1850s to the early 1900s, the Intermountain West, Utah, and the canyon were subject to Rocky Mountain locust plagues of up to 3.5 trillion insects. Then the locusts mysteriously went extinct.

• May 7th: Butterflies also see in the ultra-violet spectrum.

• May 10th: What are common spring butterflies in the canyon?

• May 19th: What plants host which butterflies in the canyon?


• September 7th: Does Utah’s coyote bounty program increase automobile deaths by reducing coyote predation of deer?

• November 2nd: How do Western porcupine populations fluctuate?

• April 10th: The life-span of mammals is limited by a constant number of heart beats, about one billion for most mammals, but humans uniquely are allocated about 3 billion heartbeats.

• June 3rd: Why do Salt Lake County officials remove all the beavers from the canyon? What is Utah’s population of beavers?

Meteorology, Hydrology, and Climate

• July 18th: Why in the afternoon, the wind in City Creek Canyon blows the wrong way – downhill instead of uphill.

• July 21st: What glaciers existed in the past in the Salt Lake valley canyons, when did they retreat, and what do they tell us about Utah’s future climate?

• February 1st and February 2nd: What SNOTEL weather stations exist in the canyon and what is average annual snowfall in the canyon?

• February 6th: What is the stream flow of City Creek Canyon?

• February 7th: What is the Pacific Quasi-Decadal Oscillation and how does it affect the canyon’s and northern Utah’s weather?

• February 8th: When is the season of heaviest air pollution in the canyon and in Salt Lake City? How does Utah’s and United States’ air pollution levels relate to the de-industrialization of the United States and globalization of United States’ manufacturing capacity?

• February 9th: How has the canyon’s and northern Utah’s climate changed over the last 576 years based on tree ring studies?

• February 24th: What flood and drought cycles have occurred in the canyon and in Salt Lake City since 1847? How do those relate to increases in Salt Lake City’s population growth since 1847?

• February 26th: During air pollution inversions, PM 2.5 air pollution decreases fifty percent from the valley floor to higher elevations along the ridgeline above the Avenues and in the canyon.

• February 27th: Does living at higher altitude Intermountain cities increase the rate of depression as compared to sea level due to decreased air pressure?

• February 28th: Is global warming detectable in local weather station data?

• March 1st: Is the Pacific Quasi-Decadal Oscillation and its sister oscillation, the Atlantic Muti-Decadal Oscillation masking the effects of global climate warming on North American continent?

• March 12th: The downtown has been repeatedly flooded by high-snowpack and cloudbursts since 1847.

• March 13th: Between 1900 and the 1930s, cloudburst storms coupled with overgrazing at the headwaters of the canyons, caused torrential floods in northern Utah’s cities, including Salt Lake City.

• March 14th: What is the Advanced Hydrographic Prediction Service? How will future flooding from City Creek Canyon affect the City’s downtown district?

• March 19th: How City Creek stream transported about 1.5 billion tonnes of sediment (0.008 cubic miles) to the City’s delta over the last 11,000 years.

• April 4th: How does the jet stream over the canyon change over the seasons?

• April 14th: What causes the April to June wind storms in the canyon and in Salt Lake valley?

• May 16th: What is the physics of standing waves in mountain streams?

• May 26th: Will the Great Salt Lake evaporate to become a dry bed and how does this relate to the future of Utah’s migratory bird populations?

• May 26th and May 27th: What studies have modeled the present level and future levels of the Great Salt Lake? What factors will change the lake’s future levels?

• June 1st: How will the United States’ withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement impact future bird populations?

• June 4th: What is the volume of underground water stored in the Salt Lake salient?


• July 16th: Do birds sing in regional dialects?

• January 14th: How birds sing at frequencies designed to best penetrate sound absorbing leaves.

• May 6th and May 20th: What are the spring birds in the canyon?

• May 6th: How do birds see their iridescent refraction of their feathers in the ultra-violet spectrum? The view that humans see of birds is not what they see of each other.

• May 15th: How many nesting Peregrine falcons are there in Utah?

• May 20th: How has the diversity of birds in the canyon changed since the nineteenth century?

• May 21st: Are populations of Utah migratory and resident birds increasing or decreasing?

• May 22nd: Are regional populations of migratory and resident birds increasing or decreasing?

• May 23rd: Are continental populations of migratory and resident birds increasing or decreasing?

• May 24th: What are the birds of concern in the canyon?

• May 26th: Will the Great Salt Lake evaporate to become a dry bed and how does this relate to the future of Utah’s migratory bird populations?

Philosophy and Nature Experience

• July 13th: Why Henry Thoreau and Wallace Stegner believed that nature needed to be preserved in order to protect our souls and sanity.

• March 18th: How does experiencing nature without digital devices restore the mind’s attention and executive functions? What is Attention Restoration Theory (ART).

• April 8th: How has changing views of competition vs. cooperation changed the United States economy since the early twentieth century?

• April 16th: Does modern technology hinder or enhance our appreciation of nature?

• April 19th to April 22nd: What is the scientific evidence that love and experience of nature an inherent, biological human need?

• April 23rd to April 25th: What is the scientific evidence that experiencing nature and the outdoors restores the body, restores the mind’s executive functions, reduces stress, and reduces crime?

• April 26th: What values do humans express when relating to nature?

• April 27th: How should expert studies citing statistical evidence be rated?

• April 27th: Should preservation of nature be predicated on an inherent, biological need for nature or on simple political will?

• June 6th: How causation is proved in experiments using the logic principles of sufficiency and necessity.

• June 13th: What do nineteenth and early twentieth century maps tell us about what Salt Lake City residents felt about City Creek Canyon?

Create a free website or blog at