Rare Wildflower That Grows Only In Death Valley Is No Longer Endangered

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Southwest Region, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pacific Southwest Region, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

The Eureka Valley evening primrose is delicate—not the type of thing you expect to find in one of the hottest, driest places on earth. But this flower grows only in a remote part of Death Valley National Park in California. After coming close to disappearing from the desert for good, the U.S. Department of the Interior reports that the rare plant species has been saved from extinction.

The Eureka Valley evening primrose blooms after the sun sets and air temperatures drop. In their habitat of sand dunes, they grow up to 2.5 feet tall and provide nectar to insects like butterflies, bees, and moths.

The flower has adapted to the harsh desert climate, but it faced a different kind of threat when Death Valley began attracting tourists in the 20th century. Off-road vehicles rolling through the dunes were crushing the flowers, and the population landed on the endangered species list in 1978.

Today, the valley where the flowers grow no longer looks like it did in the 1970s. It's now an official wilderness area, which means that recreation is heavily restricted under the Wilderness Act. The park also strives to educate visitors to the valley. Campers now know to avoid vulnerable plant life by pitching their tents away from the bases of dunes, and motorists are asked to stick to the designated roadways.

Thanks to these recent efforts, the Eureka Valley evening primrose is abundant enough that it no longer needs to be a protected species. According to an Interior Department press release, "Death Valley still might conjure up images of a desolate and dry place, [but] it's reassuring to know that among the desert sand is a beautiful flower that continues to bloom."

Kodak’s New Cameras Don't Just Take Photos—They Also Print Them

Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Your Instagram account wishes it had this clout.
Kodak

Snapping a photo and immediately sharing it on social media is definitely convenient, but there’s still something so satisfying about having the printed photo—like you’re actually holding the memory in your hands. Kodak’s new STEP cameras now offer the best of both worlds.

As its name implies, the Kodak STEP Instant Print Digital Camera, available for $70 on Amazon, lets you take a picture and print it out on that very same device. Not only do you get to skip the irksome process of uploading photos to your computer and printing them on your bulky, non-portable printer (or worse yet, having to wait for your local pharmacy to print them for you), but you never need to bother with ink cartridges or toner, either. The Kodak STEP comes with special 2-inch-by-3-inch printing paper inlaid with color crystals that bring your image to life. There’s also an adhesive layer on the back, so you can easily stick your photos to laptop covers, scrapbooks, or whatever else could use a little adornment.

There's a 10-second self-timer, so you don't have to ask strangers to take your group photos.Kodak

For those of you who want to give your photos some added flair, you might like the Kodak STEP Touch, available for $130 from Amazon. It’s similar to the regular Kodak STEP, but the LCD touch screen allows you to edit your photos before you print them; you can also shoot short videos and even share your content straight to social media.

If you want to print photos from your smartphone gallery, there's the Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer. This portable $80 printer connects to any iOS or Android device with Bluetooth capabilities and can print whatever photos you send to it.

The Kodak STEP Instant Mobile Photo Printer connects to an app that allows you to add filters and other effects to your photos. Kodak

All three Kodak STEP devices come with some of that magical printer paper, but you can order additional refills, too—a 20-sheet set costs $8 on Amazon.

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Lead from the 2019 Notre-Dame Cathedral Fire Detected in Paris’s Beehives

Veronique de Viguerie/Stringer/Getty Images
Veronique de Viguerie/Stringer/Getty Images

It's been over a year since a fire destroyed Notre-Dame's iconic spire in April 2019, and we still haven't determined the blaze's full effect on the environment. As Smithsonian reports, evidence of pollution from the incident has been found in an unusual place: Paris's beehives.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters explains that hives located downwind from the Notre-Dame fire contained honey with high concentrations of lead. As the cathedral's roof and spire burned, 450 tons of lead melted in the extreme heat, releasing hazardous particles into the air. While lead had clearly settled into the structure itself—making it unsafe to reopen to the public even after it was renovated—the question remains of how far the toxic materials spread beyond the site.

The study shows that at least some lead managed to travel a few miles away from the church. Honey sampled three months after the blaze from hives downwind from the Notre-Dame fire contained four times as much lead as honey from the Parisian suburbs, and 3.5 times as much as Parisian honey collected before April 2019.

This doesn't mean that honey from certain Paris neighborhoods is unsafe to eat. The sample with the highest numbers, taken from a hive 3 miles west of the cathedral, contained 0.08 micrograms of lead per 1 gram of honey. The European Union allows honey to be sold with lead concentrations up to 0.10 micrograms per gram.

“The highest levels of lead that we detected were the equivalent of 80 drops of water in an Olympic sized swimming pool,” study co-author Dominique Weis, director of the University of British Columbia's Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research, said in a statement. But what the findings mean for homes and businesses in Notre-Dame's surrounding area-where environmental lead samples have exceeded the safety guidelines 20 times over in some spots—is still unclear.

[h/t Smithsonian]