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Artists, Scientists Experiment With Sierra Nevada Plants

Ten  miles north of Truckee, high above sea level, a team of scientists from UC Berkley and Santa Cruz are growing nearly 13,000 plants at the direction of eco-artists Helen and Newton Harrison.

The 18 species are from lower elevations. The Harrisons' idea is that climate change will eventually cause these plants to migrate to higher elevations anyway. That migration would normally take thousands of years.

Newton Harrison says planting the species now might help species move faster and prevent environmental damage in the future. The changes will be on public display for 50 years. 

"We are asking what species will live up there under these new conditions to save the soil and waters from erosion," says Harrison. 

The Nevada Museum of Art plans to display the results of how the landscape changes or how it doesn't.

"You are going to be looking at photographs then and now, video then and now, stories then and now," says Museum Director Bill Fox. "So you will be able to say, wow, that is how the Sierra Nevada changed over 50 years."

The Harrisons say scientists in Tibet plan on duplicating the experiment.

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