Photographer's Note

"Zion's human history started almost 12,000 years ago, when Native Americans tracked mammoth, giant sloth, and camel across southern Utah. Due to climate change and overhunting, these animals died out about 8,000 years ago. Humans adapted by focusing on mid-sized animals and gathered foods. Then as resources dwindled 2,600 years ago, people tuned lifeways to the specifics of place. Such a culture, centered on Zion's resources, and differentiated over the next 1,500 years into a farming tradition archeologists call 'Virgin Anasazi'.

Zion's geology provided the Virgin Anasazi and later pioneer farmers a combination rare in the desert: a wide, level place to grow food, a river to water it, and an adequate growing season. On the Colorado Plateau crops grow best between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, making Zion's elevations - 3,666 to 8,726 feet almost ideal. Differences in elevation also encourage diverse plants and animals; mule deer and turkey wander forested plateaus; bighorn sheep and juniper prosper in canyons. And now California Giant Condor after being raised in protected habitats and then released in nearby Vermillion Cliffs, soar and glide over the landscape.

The Anasazi moved away 800 years ago, due probably to drought and overuse. Soon after, Paiute peoples brought a lifeway fine-tuned to desert seasons and thrived. In the 1860s, just after settlement by Mormon pioneers, John Wesley Powell visited Zion on the first scientific exploration of southern Utah. By hard work and faith, pioneers endured in a landscape that hardly warranted such persistence. Flash floods destroyed towns and drought burned the crops. The will to survive saw Paiute, Anasazi, and European descendants through great difficulties. Perhaps today Zion is again a sanctuary, a place of life and hope."

---- reference:

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Additional Photos by Ray Anderson (photoray) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1203 W: 1 N: 3169] (13981)
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