Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Ash Meadows: Meet the Pupfish

The newspapers have been full of reports about the outrageous anti-homeschooling decision in California and the dismal scores of Las Vegas' public school kids on math tests, which offers an interesting juxtaposition. Normally, I'd have written more about both these stories, but as my son and I head into the fourth month of our own homeschooling experiment, I find that I'm just too busy. But before I tell you about our visit to Ash Meadows yesterday, I will say this: A one-size-fits-all approach to educating children is ludicrous. Not all children do well in a traditional classroom. The idea that only "credentialed" teachers should teach--well, I think we need only look at 80%+ failure rate on Las Vegas high school math scores to disprove that idea.

Here at the Meeks Academy for One, we were busy yesterday with an impromptu field trip. The beautiful spring day demanded that we get outside and explore. I decided we should head out to Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge, which holds the largest concentration of endemic life in the United States. It's also one of the most beautiful places I've ever photographed; I'm convinced that the perfect picture is hiding somewhere within these enchanted springs.

Ash Meadows is best known as the home of the tiny, brightly-colored pupfish, a hardy and unusual fish that loves the warm water of the area's springs. The Devil's Hole Pupfish are the most endangered of the pupfish, numbering only 38. Even before the spotted owl infuriated anti-environmental groups, the pupfish was a rallying point for pro-development outrage. Years ago, the entire area surrounding Devil's Hole was slated to be turned into a housing development. (This PDF Document contains pictures of what the Ash Meadows looked like before restoration began, along with photos of the area in general: http://hegel.lewiscenter.org/users/mhuffine/subprojects/Student%20Led%20Research/pupworld/pdf/ashmeadowsover.pdf.) Today, the area has been restored, but the pupfish that helped rescue it remain severely endangered.

Photo information, top to bottom: Point of Rocks Spring, Crystal Reservoir, birds at the reservoir, Rogers Spring, Longstreet Spring.

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