When the first miners and hunters returned from the Rocky Mountains, they brought back such marvelous tales of natural beauty that a group of scientists decided to test the truth of their stories. These skeptical scientists, who visited the Rockies in 1870, wrote reports that sounded more like fiction than fact. They described a mountain made entirely of black glass; rivers of ice that were blue-white; magnificent deep canyons; towering white waterfalls; and great caves far beneath the earth.
One night, as the members of the party rested around their campfire, they discussed ways of preserving these magnificent natural scenes. It was finally and enthusiastically agreed that the whole area should be set aside as a great national park for all people to enjoy. This suggestion was accepted by the federal government and, two years later, the Yellowstone National Park came into being. Today some 9,000 square kilometres of this magnificent wilderness are preserved for millions of visitors to enjoy. Since 1872, the system of national parks has grown steadily; by 1981, there were 48 such areas set aside by the national government. State and local governments have added smaller regions.
The land in the national parks belongs to the federal government which bought the areas from the states or private individuals. The government protects the plants and animals native to each national park area. No rancher, miner, hunter or logger may use its meadows, trees or wildlife, except under strict controls.
The parks are under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, whose rangers protect the areas, guide visitors through the parks, and lecture on the natural phenomena so that the visitor can more fully enjoy the natural monuments, scenery, wild animals and plants. Within the parks, there are campgrounds, cabins and motels available to the approximately 180 million annual visitors.
Yellowstone is still the favourite of tourists. Excellent highways lead into the park; comfortable, inexpensive lodgings are offered. Experienced instructors serve as guides to the famed geysers and hot springs and animals wander about unhunted and unafraid.
Some parks are famous for their scenery; others have special significance for students of geology or cultural anthropology. For example, Mesa Verde National Park is a tableland about 24 kilometres vide, rising 600 metres out of the valley below. It contains the cliff dwellings of some of America’s earliest known Indian tribes. Rocky Mountain National Park is a geological museum which contains the remains of older mountains, canyons, forests and glaciers. Yosemite National Park is famous for its beauty: its waterfalls which cascade 730 metres, and its valleys which have walls over 900 metres high.
But perhaps no scene can equal the Grand Canyon of the Colorado. There, for a million and a half years, the great river has been gouging through the mountain rocks. The most impressive parts of the canyon lie within the 270-square-kilometre Grand Canyon National Park.
More than any other section of the United States, the mountains and deserts are still the country of immense open space. This land, which once barred the way of weary travellers, now has become a land for winter and summer vacations, a land of magic and wonder.
►In what park can you meet: the most impressive parts of the canyon / waterfall cascades / dwellings of some Indian tribes / students studying cultural anthropology / comfortable, inexpensive lodgings / glaciers / valleys with high walls? Fill in the table.
Yellowstone National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park
Yosemite National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
16. Read the text Desert Plants and find the correct answer.
Desert plants have adapted to the arid climate by using both physical and behavioral mechanisms. Some plants have developed to take advantage of the seasons when moisture is at a premium and/or when it is coolest. One of this category of plants are ‘annuals’, plants that live for only a season. The term ‘annuals’ implies blooming yearly, but since this is not always the case, desert annuals are more accurately referred to as ‘ephemerals’. Many of them can complete an entire life cycle in a matter of months, some in just weeks.
Desert plants must act quickly when heat, moisture and light inform them it’s time to bloom. Ephemerals are the sprinters of the plant world, sending flower stalks jetting out in a few days. The peak of this bloom may last for just days or weeks, depending on the weather and difference in elevation. The higher one goes, the later blooms come. Different varieties of plants will be in bloom from day to day, and even hour to hour, since some open early and others later in the day.
Ephemerals such as Desert Sand Verbena, Desert Paintbrush and Mojave Aster usually germinate in the spring following winter rains. They grow quickly, flower and produce seeds before drying and scattering their progeny on the desert floor. These seeds are extremely hardy. They remain dormant, resisting drought and heat, until the following spring – sometimes two or three springs – when they repeat the cycle, germinating after winter rains to bloom again in the spring. There are hundreds of species of ephemerals that thrive in the deserts of the American Southwest, and if you examine the desert ground closely, you will likely find dozens of annual seeds in every handful of soil.
1. Which of the following best describes the main point of the passage?
a) The desert soil is full of drought-resistant annual seeds.
b) Annual winter rainfall allows the ephemerals to bloom.
c) Different plants flower at different times.
d) Ephemerals have adjusted to the weather conditions.
2. It can be inferred from the passage that ephemerals
a) flower more quickly than other plants.
b) need to have high temperatures before they can flower.
c) only bloom at high altitudes.
d) are at their peak when they have flowered for a few days.
3. According to the passage, the seeds of the ephemeral
a) germinate every year.
b) are very sturdy.
c) bloom every spring.
d) do not live long on the desert ground.
4. What do some plants take advantage of?
a) The autumn seasons.
b) The drought each summer.
c) The temperature and humidity.
d) The winter rains and very cold temperatures.
5. According to the passage, the seeds on the desert floor remain
a) there for two or three years in every handful of soil.
b) inactive until conditions are suitable for them to flower.
c) on the desert floor drying out.
d) thriving in the deserts of the American Southwest.
17. You are going to read an article about a famous conservation project. For questions 1-7, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text. Compare your answers to your partner’s.
SAVE OUR SEEDS
Over the past four hundred years, four hundred and fifty types of plants and trees around the world have become extinct as a result of the combined effects of global warming, population growth, deforestation, flooding and the fact that deserts are advancing in some regions at a rate of nearly four miles a year. Scientists estimatea quarter of the world’s remaining 270,000 plant species will be under threatof extinction by 2050.
In 1997, in an attempt to try to prevent the loss of such precious resources, volunteers all over Britain began collecting seeds from Britain’s 1,400 species of wild plants, three hundred of which are already facing extinction. The seeds collected are now housedin the Millennium Seed Bank, which opened its doors in 2000. Run by the Royal Botanical Gardens department of the famous Kew Gardens in London, the bank is located in Sussex, about thirty-five miles outside of the capital.
The bank is expected to become the world’s biggest seed bank and, apart from preservingalmost all the plant life in Britain, it also aims to have saved the seeds of more than 24,000 species of plant life, almost a tenth of the world’s flowering plants, in the next twenty years. If they are successful, the Millennium Seed Bank Project will be one of the largest international conservation projects ever undertaken.
In order to achieve this aim, the Millennium Seed Bank has a team of scientists who travel to remote corners of the world to find and collect seeds. They work together with local botanists and also help them to set uptheir own seed banks by training local scientists. They also spend a great deal of time negotiatingwith governments to allow them to collect the seeds and bring them back to Britain for storage in the Millennium Seed Bank.
When these seeds arrive at the seed bank, they are sorted,separated by hand from their pods, cleaned and dried and then X-rayed to make sure that they haven't been damaged in any way that might stop them from growing into healthy plants. Finally, they are placed in ordinary glass jars and stored in three underground vaults at temperatures of -20°C. Most plant species have seeds that can be dried, frozen and stored for years and still grow into healthy plants. However, the seeds of some species cannot be dried, so they can’t be stored in seed banks in the usual way. These seeds include many rainforest tree species and plants that grow underwater.
Roger Smith, head of the Millennium Seed Bank, explains that scientists at the bank are already working on finding new ways of storing those seeds that cannot survive the drying and freezing process, and also on how to regeneratethe seeds when they become extinct in their natural habitats. “At the moment, all we’re doing is preserving these plants for the future. We won’t have managed to conserveany species until we find the way to successfully regeneratethem and grow new plants from them,” points out Smith. “But at least this way, when the technology becomes available, and it will, we won’t have lost everything.”
As well as preserving seeds for the future, the seed bank also receives 2000 requests per yearfor seeds from universities, governments and conservationist organisations for use in various types of research – for example, to find cures for diseases, to grow food in the developing worldand to help in projects that restorethe natural habitats of endangered animal species so they can be releasedback into the wild. Dr Hugh Pritchard, head of research at the Millennium Seed Bank, says: “While it’s true that many of the plants we preserve at the bank aren’t useful at the moment, that doesn’t mean they won’t become useful in the future. Something like thirty per cent of the medicines we use today are based on products or chemicals which have been extracted from plants. So it’s easy to see why we need to preserve the diversityof the earth’s plant life for the future.”
1. What do scientists believe will happen by 2050?
A)All plant life will be altered.
Â) 450 types of plants will be in danger of becoming extinct.
Ñ) Part of the world’s plant life will face extinction.
D) Environmental factors will affect only 450 plant species.
2. Where can the Millennium Seed Bank be found?
A)outside Sussex Ñ)in the Royal Botanical Gardens
Â) outside London D) in the Kew Gardens
3. The main objective of the Millennium Seed Bank is to
A)save the seeds of thousands of the world’s plants.
B) protect all flowering plants in the world.
Ñ) start a new international project in the next few years.
D) undertake a larger conservation project soon.
4. The Millennium Seed Bank carries out its work by
A) training foreign governments to plant seeds.
Â) travelling around the world with botanists from other countries.
C) helping other international seed banks.
D) collecting international seeds and returning them to Britain for storage.
5. The methods used in storing the seeds show that
A) all seeds can be preserved for many years.
B) some species cannot be stored by regular means.
C) some of the plant species develop into healthy plants.
D) some seeds are damaged when X-rayed.
6. The Millennium Seed Bank is trying to
A) reproduce new plants from the seeds.
Â) reduce the storage lives of some seeds.
Ñ) destroy the seeds that cannot be frozen.
D) plant the seeds that have a short storage life.
7. Why is this project important, according to Dr Pritchard?
A) It’s useful to medical research.
B) It’s useful in technological research.
C) It helps governments in developing countries.
D) It helps animal habitats.
18. You are going to read a newspaper article about a man who teaches survival techniques. Eight sentences have been removed from the article. Choose from the sentences A-I the one which fits each space (1-7). There is one extra sentence which you do not need to use. There is an example at the beginning (0).