Natural Environment Reference

brush flats

A term used to describe desert scrub on a relatively flat terrain. Here, brush can refer to bunch grasses, perennial woody shrubs, and even occassional islands of juniper across an arid landscape. A prime example of a prominent expanse of brush flats the Great Basin Desertscrub plant community that is found in Arizona along the Little Colorado River Drainage.

saw-whet owl

Saw-whet owls (Aegolius acadicus) are small owls that are native to North America. They have small heart-shaped faces and cat-like eyes. This owl is found throughout North America; they tend to roost in trees. These owls are primarily nocturnal and their call is a high-pitched "too-too-too."


A type of deciduous shrub or tree that can be used for medicinal purposes, for erosion control, or timber, in addition to many other uses. Willows are located throughout the world, and in the U.S. Southwest, one can find several different species of willow, including the arroyo, desert, and Navajo willows. Their shoots have been used by Native Americans for basketry purposes and for the construction of temporary structures.


An arroyo is a dry creek or stream bed with nearly vertical walls. Arroyos are ephemeral water ways, and so remain dry most of the time, but can fill and flow with water after a large amount of rainfall. Although they are often naturally created when riverbeds overflow and then dry out again, cutting into the rock outside the streambed, in many desert regions, arroyos are also constructed and used as a means of flood control and irrigation. Arroyos exist throughout the western United States, but are most common in the arid and semi-arid climates of the Southwestern U.S.


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