Desert People

I guess I’m a desert person now. That’s what Pat Flanagan, a 78-year old activist I interviewed for a recent High Country News article called herself. Pat has lived in southern California for decades, but it wasn’t until 2002 that she could move to the far reaches of San Bernardino County into the Mojave Desert. Which she did upon retirement because, well, she’s a desert … Continue reading Desert People

Where did the West go?

The road stretched straight and flat before me, like you’d see in a sports car commercial or a Dennis Hopper movie. On either side, the land spread wide and open. Not quite flat–with a bit of a roll here and there–dotted continuously with juniper and other unidentifiable desert shrubs. I had been traveling out West for almost six weeks since leaving my home in West … Continue reading Where did the West go?

The birthplace of rivers floods

The timing seems almost surreal. Just a couple of weeks after my husband John and I visited the site of the proposed Birthplace of Rivers National Monument in West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest, ferocious floods devastated the region. I had already submitted my feature on the proposed monument for the July issue of The Observer when the floods hit, and the issue reached the stands … Continue reading The birthplace of rivers floods

Expanding the conservation tent

As I wrote my recent article for High Country News, I felt torn. Like many conservationists, I value biodiversity and natural ecosystems for their own sake, regardless of any tangible benefit they provide to humanity. That’s the argument for saving nature that conservation icons going back more than 100 years have made to help protect America’s wilderness, parks, and wildlife –and the argument that has … Continue reading Expanding the conservation tent

Wild things

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, a law that promised to preserve America’s largest wild places in an “untrammeled” state untouched by people. But back in 1964, no one anticipated the Anthropocene of the 21st century – a period in which humans affect every corner of the Earth. Today, global climate change and invasive species from foreign lands (and waters) are … Continue reading Wild things

Saving places

We protect what we value. For some of us, it’s life on Earth in all its wondrous forms. For others, it’s the history that helped shape and define our culture. And for lucky souls like me, it’s both. But the competing priorities of modern society often seem to conspire against such quaint notions. So, to ensure that these treasures endure despite the whims of a … Continue reading Saving places