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Rosa Maria Ruiz, a guide from Bolivia, holding a laminated photograph in the rain to make sure they are waterproof. She will use the photos in a traveling exhibition to remote villages to educate the Bolivians about the importance of protecting Madidi.

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In this winter nursery for gray whales (Eschrichtius glaucus), one of the cetaceans swims close to two whale-watching boats, seeking contact with now-friendly humans. Restored to healthy populations, California grays were recently taken off the endangered list. Atlantic grays, however, were long ago hunted into extinction .

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Skiers ride a lift at a resort near Sun Valley, Idaho.

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A rancher on horseback in Idaho’s snow-blanketed Salmon Valley at dusk.

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A forest ranger looks at heavy metal residue in Bucktail creek at Salmon National Forest in Idaho. The slag comes from nearby Blackbird mine, closed in the 1960’s.

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A copper-tailings impoundment next to a housing development in Arizona threatens leeching of chemicals into groundwater as seen in the sulfide-tinged pool of rainwater.

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A clear-cut in Salmon National Forest, Idaho. The reserve covers a 1.8- million -acre tract.

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A mountain biker and tire tracks that threaten to destroy living desert crust near Arches National Park, Utah.

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A young man carries his girlfriend away after graduating from high school in Salmon, Idaho.

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A group of masked waiters tend a summer wine auction in Sun Valley, Idaho.

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The rodeo princess poses with her horses at the Lemhi county fair in Salmon, Idaho.

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Traffic light at the corner of Main and Church streets in Salmon, Idaho.

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A young boy plays in a stream in Willamette National Forest, Oregon.

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The living room of a native American family in the Pacific Northwest shows images of past and present realities of this salmon-centered culture.

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These are steelhead salmon smolts (Oncorhynchus mykiss) being raised at a hatchery. They will soon be transported to release streams in the hope that some of them will survive their migration to the sea; but the heavily dammed Columbia river and its tributaries have become an obstacle course for several imperiled species. In addition the Native Americans, to whom the salmon runs are crucial, find fishing very poor. (US: Threatened)

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Unplanned product of a foster-parent program for endangered whooping cranes (Grus americana), a “whoopill” was sired out of a whooper out of a great Sandhill crane (Grus canadensis canadensis). Having failed to produce a single breeding female, biologists have abandoned their efforts to create a viable flock of whooping cranes, whose numbers in the wild have crept from 51 in 1973 to about 165 today. Many think that, rather than struggling to restore a creature so near extinction, efforts should be concentrated on species in the early stages of danger.

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Fragmentation of fragile habitat has added to the woes of the once-hardy desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizi). They are collected from soon-to-be-developed lands and sent to a center where they are adopted, euthanized (if ill), or used for research.

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South of Los Angeles the implacable sprawl of single-family homes like these has reached critical mass. Or so think local environmentalists, who are challenging new developments to safeguard dwindling parcels of coastal sage scrub, habitat of the California gnatcatcher. Increasingly, developers compromise by setting aside land for imperiled species.

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Hit-and-run victims on Florida’s busy waterways, injured manatees maintain vital buoyancy only with the aid of inflatable wet suits at Orlando’s Sea World.

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A prodigy of adaptation, the endangered least tern (Sterna albifrons) survived the test of evolution by nesting on barren sandbars, protected from predators by the swift flow of surrounding rivers. These moated habitats are created by naturally occurring spring floods, which humans now spend millions to prevent.

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This tiny snail darter (Percina tanasi) stalled the construction of Tellico dam on the Little Tennessee river. Though the dam was built, the Endangered Species Act was henceforth seen in many quarters as an enemy of progress.

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This bird earned questionable notoriety as a job buster. It is the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis), listed as threatened in 1990; it w as expected to cause thousands of job losses by disrupting logging in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. The actual cost of protection to the regional economy is not yet known.

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Portrait of a cattleman through a windshield standing with his horse on Hot Spings ranch north of Salmon, Idaho.

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A child is helped ride a sheep during the “mutton busting” event at the annual rodeo in Leadore, Idaho.

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A sun-enhanced shower falls on Lemhi county residents who came to the town of Salmon for the annual Salmon River Days festival.

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A rancher drives cattle fattened on public land to his employer’s ranch in Lemhi County, Idaho.

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A rancher’s dog expresses displeasure by snarling at photographer, Joel Sartore, on a ranch in Idaho.

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A lamb leaps up after being relieved of his tail for better sanitation purposes by Bureau of Land Management workers on federal grazing lands in southern Wyoming.

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A grandfather poses with his granddaughters at his cattle ranch at the edge of the Mojave desert near Goffs, California.

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Hot breath of active volcanoes rises from roiling thermal pool fields in Chile’s Atacama desert.

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Two tourist are transfixed by the otherworldly terrain of the Valley of the Moon in Chile’s Atacama desert.

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The desert dwarfs the one road from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama.

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Aymara woman with her llama herd on the desolate landscape of the high Chilean Atacama desert.

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Miners masked against sun and cold carve up the land in search of borax in Chile’s Atacama desert.

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A street in San Pedro de Atacama as the day comes to an end.

Photo: Julie Jensen Director of Marketing | WVC O: 866.800.7326 | D: 702.443.9249 | E: j.jensen@wvc.org

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