Sustainability and Sense of Place in the Sonoran Desert/Resource Use & Policy

Component Six – Resource Use & Policy edit

Our readings for this Component came from recent issues of High Country News, a particularly responsible journal of environmental issues in the American West ( We also viewed the wonderful video "When Humans Were Prey," produced by PBS Eons (

Guest speakers in 2020 were long-time environmental activist Cary Meister, who narrated his experiences in working to establish Wilderness-area designations under the 1960s-era Congressional Act, and Karen Reichhardt, who talked about her long career with the Bureau of Land Management. In 2021, Nancy Meister, partner to Cary, spoke about her many years of environmental advocacy and specifically about organized efforts to lobby the Arizona State Legislature on "Environmental Day at the Capitol."

A. High Country News, Will California finally fulfill its promise to fix the Salton Sea?, 2021 edit

Guiding Questions edit

Where did the Salton Sea come from? The Colorado River has periodically filled the Salton Sink (to create the Salton Sea) over the last tens of thousands of years, what is different about it this time? Why don’t people just let it dry up like it has done in the past?

In what way(s) does the Salton Sea fit into the category of environmental problems that have been impacted negatively by the pandemic? In what ways is that trend disturbing in the face of the facts that COVID-19 is going to be hard to suppress in this country and, more generally, that pandemics are becoming more likely with the growing global population, not to mention various climate-change issues that are going to require massive emergency responses?

In what ways is the Salton Sea a symbol of humans’ arrogance? That is, in what ways is the Imperial Valley embody the collateral damage that can result from economic ventures that are undertaken without a reasonable assessment of possible risk?

In what ways are the lake and its looming problems a symbol of our willingness to accept health problems in the local human population? The local natural environment? Why hasn’t more been done to remedy those particular problems, do you suppose?

“The feds insist they occupy a supporting role, and agency heads from Reclamation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service refused to attend a September congressional hearing to discuss the government’s role in cleaning up the lake.” What seems to be the political issue here?

How do the environmental problems of Salton Sea affect more than just the local region?

Student Discoveries edit

While the Salton Sea has been dangerous for many years, not much has been done about this environmental problem. The ball was going to get rolling in 2020; however, we had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic instead of environmental issues. This is just one more thing COVID-19 has taken from us. Growing global population and climate change are two issues that exist and will only cause more problems in the future; if we recognize this, we must recognize that we must stop simply planning and debating what to do, we have to actually do. Over the last twenty years, the problems with the Salton Sea have been vaguely planned; however, no major progress has been made towards solving the problem.

Fixing this would cost a lot of money that government in California doesn’t want to pay, and especially with a pandemic they aren’t going to focus on this and focus their money elsewhere like they have been doing anyways. The pandemic just makes it worse. Along with more and more people abandoning the place it is essentially becoming desolate and toxic. This is a prime example of human arrogance, or maybe just ignorance at first and then arrogance amongst the local government not wanting to spend the money to recover it even though it poses a huge health risk to locals. Though the difference between this and the pandemic is that there is much more media attention on the pandemic than this. I have never heard of this issue and i even used to live in the Bay Area in California.

It is a symbol of our arrogance, and of our bland human desires such as greed. Humans often have a need for some sense of power, as species, we have learned that power cannot be exerted over our own as it is immoral, so we decided to exert it over nature, an ambivalent point in which many people differ in opinions however nature cannot speak to the ears of the ignorant, and that's why we keep harming it, we ignore the systematic destruction of the habitats, of wildlife, of everything that was so beautiful and complex just to satisfy our unending wants.

If an action is not put into practice, we will be faced with repeating the same story in regards to environmental problems; as resources are beginning to be focused on environmental problems, something happens that we did not plan for, and those resources are taken away. If we continue this pattern, when will environmental issues be given the attention that they need? Are we going to wait until a massive climate-change issue occurs for there to be an emergency response?

It is a perfect example of what can happen due to human arrogance and greed. Due to carelessness of people in the past, people nowadays have to deal with their problems and find a way to deal with it. More importantly, even when people want it to end, they face several issues with the legislature that solutions are promised time and time again but nothing is ever put to action. This has been going on for several years now and the people responsible for fixing it even keep acknowledging that nothing has actually changed but they promise to fix it soon.

The environmental problems surrounding the Salton Sea affect more than the local region. The sand emission of these areas can travel across southern California and make its way to Arizona and other nearby states. Which will most likely cause more air pollution and health problems to humans, such as many respiratory illnesses. The upsetting part about this situation is that as years go by, the effects seem to intensify and worsen.

Now the Salton Sea is causing an environmental and public health issue. The shoreline has moved back from its original position exposing "la playa." This is not just it. The contract for protecting the Sea is very old and has not been renewed. We can't let the Salton Sea dry up because if we do it would leave exposed the toxic that is coated at the bottom of it.

Environmental problems of Salton Sea bring up issues that may occur in other places. The government had to be held responsible for their lack of action and funds. As of 2020, the Imperial County Air Pollution gave violations to the state and feds for failing to perform dust-control projects. Problems like the Salton’s retreating lake will arise and maybe in the future we can take better examples of how to handle the issues. Learning how to deal with toxic lakes will help us with other similar clean-up projects.

B. High Country News, Will the climate crisis tap out the Colorado River?, 2021 edit

Guiding Questions edit

What, specifically, do climate scientists mean when they say “the new normal?”

How do you think “the new normal” will affect the Salton Sea?

Consider the following quote - “Farmers can’t expect that they can plant whatever they want or not expect water to be expensive,”... “Urban areas need to get way more efficient, people need to ditch way more lawns.” - How do you think people will adapt to this change?

Student Discoveries edit

The “new normal” scientists are referring to is the fact that the Colorado River Basin will continue to have less water and hotter days. However, there can be extreme drought years within this new normal such as 2020. There was warmer spring and no summer monsoons to bring water to the Southwest. This “new normal” will continue to bring even less water to the Salton Sea, so it will continue to diminish.

I think people as long as they remain ignorant about the truth of the state of nature they will be unable to adapt. Adaptation is a natural response that results from the acknowledgment of an imminent threat to the integrity of the species, and as I said before, there is no need to adapt in the eyes of the people that wish to remain ignorant. However, I do believe future generations are gonna do a greater job to opt for a minimalistic approach to their wants, not by a lot, but at least they are acknowledging some threatening aspects of environmental change and the "new normal".

Adapting to change is not easy; it takes a lot of effort to achieve…To change that idea will take time, however, it could eventually be achieved. People can adapt to change, but the effort must be practiced in order to achieve it.

By “the new normal” climate scientists mean the change in the climate that affects the water of the area, more specifically as stated in the passage, “less water and hotter days”. This is something that has been happening since the 2000’s and seen as changes from the norm, but now those changes have become the norm. I think that the “new normal” will affect the Salton Sea because since the Colorado River will fill a lot less, it will have less overfill which will cause the Salton Sea to lose its water source and make it dry off.

When climate scientist refers to the phrase "new normal" they are describing a warming world. In other words, they are talking about a sustained period in which we experience warmer days and less water. I think that the "new normal" could negatively affect the Salton Sea. If these warmer days continue, then the water cycle could be affected, and there would be less precipitation to fill the lake, which will expose the dusty lakebed and create more health problems. Additionally, these warmer days can also cause more water to evaporate from the rivers, and there would be a significant decline in stream flows and runoffs.

I think that the phrase "new normal" when climate scientist say it they are referring to how the situation (being bad) as began to seem ordinary (which should be bad). People are barely putting enough attention to this issue and now classifying it as the "new normal" I feel that they would just ignore it even more.  

Since 2000, the Colorado River has faced a period of droughts and extremely high temperatures. In 2020, during warm springtime, seasonal monsoons didn’t happen. As a result, the basin suffered the consequences of low precipitation. According to the study, nature will eventually tell us what we have to do to live. This means that we will no longer have the choice to ignore the environmental issue like we do in the past. This “new normal” will negatively impact the Salton Sea. With the decrease of water levels, the shoreline will recede at a rapid pace. Leaving sandy playa and windblown dust everywhere. This drought will cause salt to go up in the air and cause allergies and other bad symptoms.

C. High Country News, “Trump targets bedrock environmental law”, 2020 edit

Guiding Questions edit

What is the basic premise of this article?

What changes to the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) are being made? What is the reasoning that is made for these changes?

After three years of rolling back regulation, who has benefitied? Who has lost?

Given this article came out just before the global outbreak of the Covid-19, do you think there may be parallels among the changing roles of science in federal agencies?

Which is more serious, Trump's assault on the truth or his assault on the environment? In what ways are they the same thing?

Thinking back to the readings from last week, what public health and safety issues would be addressed by protecting the species you have chosen?

Student Discoveries edit

The main premise to this article is how Trump is trying to weaken the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) because he states they take too long to review the process which slows down the infostructure. The changes Trump has made to NEPA are diminishing the Bears Ears National Monument, tossed out rules protecting water from uranium operations, threw out limits on methane and mercury emissions, weakened the Clean Water Act, and, cleared the way for the Keystone XL pipelines.

The basic premise of this article is that Trump is attempting to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act or NEPA. He believes that there are problems with this act, and it's causing projects to take a long time. Trump claims that these projects are taking ten years to twenty years. According to research, these environmental projects take an average of five years, 5% last more than ten years, and less than 1% exert for more than twenty years. Trump isn't looking at all of the facts, and he is claiming that by weakening the NEPA, it will create more job opportunities. This statement is also incorrect since Trump is cutting projects; it is decreasing the number of jobs for people. Since Trump took office, he has diminished the environmental protection for Bears Ears National Monument. This cut back has caused the protection of water from uranium to cease. With this decision, he not only weakened the NEPA but the Clean Water act along with it. Another project that Trump has affected is the Keystone XL pipeline.

The premise of this article is that Trump is attempting to weaken the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA- a law that requires environmental reviews for projects that are handled by federal agencies. Trump claims that it is necessary because it is “hampering with economic growth” as it takes 20 to 30 years to have something built.

They want to move the Bureau of Land Management out to the west and have more offices scattered throughout the west of the U.S. Some representatives were saying that this should not be done, because this would involve people relocating or losing their jobs, and they pointed out that not many people would want to relocate

The main premise of this article is Trump's weakening of the National Environmental Policy Act, NEPA. His problem with this policy is that it slows down infrastructure due to the required environmental reviews. According to him, the review process takes twenty to thirty years, losing jobs and money throughout the process. Once the actual analysis of NEPA was conducted the average process takes less than five years to complete. Some cases do take longer due to their complexity.

The basic idea of the article is to explain why President Trump is changing the National Environmental Protection Act. The article mentions that Trump feels environmental projects are taking a long time to complete. When Trump became president, he began to change a lot and especially when it involved the NEPA. Trump did benefit the economy by creating jobs for people across the country. The environment has taken a hit for some of the decisions President Trump has made.

The purpose of this article is to show how President Trump is changing the National Environmental Policy Act. Throughout the article is discusses how Trump thinks there is an issue with this act because projects are taking longer than usual to finish. According to Trump he stated that these projects can take up to twenty years but when an analysis of NEPA took place it showed that the average process take about less than five years. Of course if the project is more complex it will take longer. When Trump took office he started making changes to NEPA that drastically impacted the environment negatively. Many of these changes were meant to help the economy by creating jobs. Overall these changes still have not made any impact on changing our environment. In fact it has made things worse and environmental effects and climate change are not being taken into consideration in this matter. The COVID-19 outbreak has seriously changed the way things are operating in the government. Some people even think it’s nature’s way of “karma”. Over the past couple of years things have been changing drastically in regards to the environment but now with the outbreak it has slowed down the harm we are doing to the environment. I feel Trumps impact on the environment is more severe.

Given this article came out just before the global outbreak of the Covid-19, I do think there may be parallels among the changing roles of science in federal agencies because they have to now turn their focus to the COVID-19 situation. I think the entire world is shut down and to reverse this everyone has to work together to essentially kill the virus before it kills the population.

A really interesting book I read several years ago, Fantasyland, really shaped my perception of some of the origins for this giant disconnect we’re seeing between science and public opinion. I think the Donald started poking his finger in a tear in American society. Then he ripped it wide open. His attacks on the truth probably concern me the most, mainly because of how effective they are with a large percentage of the population. Liars aren’t that harmful if everyone acknowledges they’re liars, it’s when people feel compelled to act like that person’s blatant lies are true that the reception starts getting a little fuzzy and things get dangerous. This disconnect between “the reality-based community” and public perception was surely always there. The strange and sad new twist is that the people that we have elected to government really seem to have no respect, or maybe understanding, for why public policy and our government, in order to be successful in the goal of managing the greater good, despite any political ideology, must be grounded in empirical data and just plain old reality. There are multiple parallels, dismantling the CDC, disregarding the CDC, replacing the scientist’s representatives that work with the CDC with lobbyists. Pretty much replace CDC with EPA. It’s a scary time. I don’t know if we will see our way back from this. Joe Rogan is unknowingly the new Rush Limbaugh and apparent authority on Coronavirus. A cult of personality is at the helm, with a legion of sycophants at his beckon. It seems grim my friends. It's up to us to be our own heroes.

I believe that organizations such as NEPA are trying their best in fighting against it but with so many that are trying to erase it such as Trump or those that see it as an income platform it is hard to determine if they will win against them.Since the COVID-19 outbreak, I do believe that there has been a similarity among the changing roles of science in federal agencies due to how serious the virus has become. In the beginning, I believe that the federal agencies thought of the virus as being not that serious but as it became worse took it more seriously due to the severity of it. Trump’s assault on the environment is more serious because of the increasing effect that it has on the environment. If he continues to assault the environment it without a doubt will be the end of the species of animals and plants as we know it. One of the ways that Trump’s assault on the environment and truth is the same thing is his thought is on it which is not being a serious problem. I with a firm belief think that he truly does not realize how serious the truth is as well as the environment with it only being taken as seriously as it has been due to the pressuring of others for him to listen. Taking a look at the mule deer one safety issue would be the highways that are built because it causes vehicle strikes and indirectly through fragmentation of habitat that keep them from obtaining the resources they need and reduce genetic interchange. As a result, these types of conflicts reduce their population ability due to the restriction of being able to gather the resources they need

D. High Country News, “Boeing’s history reveals connections…”, 2020 edit

Guiding Questions edit

What is meant by the term "Placelessness" and what are its perils?

In what ways is it in conflict with a Sense of Place?

If such Placelessness is the modern norm, what are its inevitable implications to the ecosphere?

What "placeless" multinational corporations/forces potentially imperil your area?

Student Discoveries edit

I believe what they mean with “placelessness” is somewhere that someone believes they don’t fit.

What is meant by the term "Placelessness" is the loss of uniqueness in a specific location. This article talks about how Seattle has been struggling, and that they were going to relocate to Chicago. They are trying to expand the company and taking more land as they relocate. Multinational corporations/forces that are potentially imperiling my area would be the military base. The runway of Yuma's military base is the third-longest in the United States. This runway is taking up more space and decreasing the amount of habitat for many different species.

‘Placelessness” is the loss of uniqueness of place in the structural landscape.

If Placelessness is moving from place to place without building connections or emotions, then the environment might actually suffer. People would move to new places, use up the natural resources, and keep moving if people don’t stay long enough to use the resources that are available in that place and try to replace them, then the place might run out of resources. Placelessness is the opposite of a sense of place, I believe that a sense of place is a place where you feel connected and comfortable with your environment. If placelessness is the new norm there are inevitable implications to the ecosphere. There will be animals, plants, people, etc. living in places that they are not well adapted to.

In class we constantly discuss the phrase, "sense of place" and when we think about "Placelessness" means being alone or not fitting in. When discussing "sense of place" in class we often refer to being apart of the environment and not intruding on the world around us. A lot of times us humans decide to do what's best for us and not what's best for the animals and nature that also live in our world.

The term “Placelessness” means being lost or not having the sense of belonging. For our class this is the opposite of a “sense of place” because a “sense of place” means belonging and being apart of the environment around you not coming in and invading for the convenience of what you think is best.

Placelessness seems to be something like one’s disconnect from the local place they occupy. Seeing the effects of plastics on the Colorado River, the draining of the Gila, and our overuse of water really makes me more concerned and helps cutout some of the ambiguity on where to start immediately helping the environment. Without this sense of place, and in a perpetual sense of placelessness, I see where we have gone wrong. I really hope after this idea was shared with us we can help share it with others.

The term ‘’Placelessness’’ is referred to be the loss of the natural habitat of a region so that one place looks like the next. One threat to this is the loss of a natural habitat’s uniqueness because of the effect that it has on the habitat’s species in the way that they function. In turn, it conflicts with a Sense of Place because it lacks a habitat having a place in the world. When it comes to a ‘’Sense of Place’’ it depicts a sense of belonging to the world or having a purpose in which ‘’Placeslessness’’ contradicts it with it being the opposite. In the modern age ‘’placelessness’’ has become the norm with its inevitable implications to the ecosphere being the destruction to all civilization whether it be humankind or other species

E. PBS Eons, “When Humans Were Prey”, 2020 edit

Guiding Questions edit

Does this video change your understanding of our species, Homo sapiens, recent evolutionary history?  Have you been taught that humans have a thirst for blood and that is our true nature?  Or have you been taught that it is our ability to cooperate that is our true nature?

Even if we did evolve from "killer apes," does that mean we're obligated to continue behaving that way?  What does religion tell us?

How do you think these alternative stories influence the way we view ourselves?  Do you think it matters what we think of ourselves?  Why and/or why not?

Do you think humans, in general, feel like they belong to the places they live?  Do you feel like you belong to the place you live?

Student Discoveries edit

I don’t believe that doesn’t obligate us human beings to continue behaving that way because we have evolved drastically. We no longer need to act that way because it is no longer necessary for us to live, how were lived and how we live now are two complexly different worlds in which we act totally different.

I never thought that we were once considered prey. I always believed that we would hunt and kill other animals. I have heard that saying before since there have been plenty of killings this past couple of years. I've heard people say that killing other things is something that our species has done for many years and that it will never change. I don't believe that we need to continue behaving this way. It's wrong in so many different ways. Many different religions believe that we should respect the animals that are on this earth with us. For example, the Buddhist belief is that we should respect humans and animals. I feel like the alternative stories can influence the way we view ourselves positively and negatively. Depending on the person, we can see this from a negative point of view and try to change our old ways. If a person positively views this, they'll think that if we change our habits, we will demonstrate that we are weak. I believe that it does matter what we think of ourselves. From my point of view, I care about what I think about myself. I feel like this pushes me to try to be the best version of myself every day. I assume that if people worry about what they think of themselves, it can help them try to better their surroundings.

Even if we evolved from killer apes that does not mean we are obligated to continue behaving that way. In today’s society, we frown up killing and if committed, the individual can face prison time. Religion is also against killing and in my religion, that is one of the ten commandments that one shall not commit. I would not consider this thirst for blood because I think that like many other animals if humans are not in a life or death situation, they would much rather prefer to not attack someone. I have also been taught that we are social creatures and that we need to cooperate to survive.

I've never been taught that it is human nature to have thirst for blood, but have noticed that humans do things that benefit themselves, survival instinct.

I never really knew humans were once prey, I always thought we were at the top of the food chain. Evolution has shown otherwise and that we once were prey. We now control the world and we are the most superior in the food chain. It's truly amazing how much things have changed over the years and how we feel this is where we belong now. After watching the video it did not really change my mind about our history of evolution. I feel humans are really good at communicating with each other but we are horrible at adapting to the environment around us. Humans have to constantly “improve” the world around us because we are never satisfied with what we have. It didn’t surprise me that we were once prey but it also shows the development we went through. Now we are the hunters and dominating everything we come in contact with. I feel like humans do believe they belong here and with its high tech world it won’t last as long as people think. I feel like I do belong here but I wish it was different. I feel like technology and domination has taken over the views on what people believe is normal and they need to re-evaluate what needs to be normal.

Even if we did evolve from "killer apes," I don’t think that means we're obligated to continue behaving that way. Now we are civilized, and it would be ‘inhuman’ to act like “killer apes”. I think these alternative stories influence the way we view ourselves because it creates a preexisting notation of what we used to be.

It absolutely, to me, and objectively, matters what we think of ourselves. We have shown what is possible in great times of crisis before. It’s as simple as a sport’s slogan, “The man that believes he can’t is right.” I’ve seen so many people convinced man is horrible. What I really see in them is a hatred for their powerlessness to overcome their emotions and understand humans are a mixed bag. They inevitably hurt environmentalism by their constant need to be outraged and pessimistic. They repeat the same talking points and when I say, “Well we ought to get together and do something,” they look at the ground and a lot of rocks get shuffled around. If you believe the world is doomed and man is evil, you’re right. It’s hard to be a optimist living in these times, I know I’m not. I’m a pragmatist. I know that getting off my rear, helping where I can and shining a light on the positive helps way more than throwing sticks, and it takes a lot more virtues, chiefly hard work and good emotional fitness. When the decks stacked against you and it doesn’t look like your going to make it out, keep your head and keep working, believing it’s all lost and all bad is the surest way to make it so.

After looking at the video it did change my view on homo sapiens in their recent evolutionary history because it showed a side that portrayed a side of them being preyed upon rather being the hunters. Since I was a child, I had always thought that homo sapiens were the hunters towards other predators. I have always been taught that we can cooperate with others in a sense of us being the gathers. All in all, I believe that we are naturally formed as being gathers to better ourselves and share it with the rest of our family by providing for them. More so, even if we did evolve from ‘’killer apes’’ it does not mean that we are obligated to continue behaving that way because of our sense of free will in being able to choose how we live and the actions that we do. Religion tells us that we are obligated to act in a way that benefits everyone or is of good intention, but it also tells us of our ability to choose how we act. In turn, these alternative stories influence the way that we view ourselves through the way that we think by the reminder of being a good person. How we think of ourselves is extremely important because it dictates the way that we act and the amount of effort that we put into the world

F. Nancy Meister, Prof. Emerita Arizona Western College (visiting speaker, 2021) edit

Description: edit

Prof. Nancy Meister gave insight into the world of environmental advocacy and how everyone can get involved in their government to advocate for the environmental issues that are important to them. Nancy Meister is a champion for the environment and an example to all that activism is important in general, but even more so on the local level.

Nancy Meister talked about Legislation on environmental issues, to me it was a presentation that portrayed the balance that must prevail when referring to the interaction and exploitation of natural resources.

Professor Emerita Nancy Meister is an environmental activist who has played an important role in our state’s legislation. Representing her community, Professor Meister has voiced her concerns to legislation in hopes to bring a change to the environmental issues surrounding the state and encourages us to do the same.

I think that the biggest takeaway from the guest speaker we had was that I should try to be more involved in politics and learn more about what I can actually do to help.

Reflection: edit

I was surprised to learn that anyone can take action in their communities and advocate for the issues that are important to them. There is not enough time in the world to address all our needs; however, there is enough to at least make a dent in them and protect our environment, simply by beginning to advocate at the local level.

Arizona is a very sunny state, where the sun is out longer in a day for more of the year than in any other area of the United States, especially here in Yuma in the Sonoran Desert. This means that this area has the greatest potential to utilize solar power energy to its fullest degree here . . . The bill was to make it so that energy companies must provide a certain percentage of their energy needed to come from solar power, which would mean they need to install solar panels as a big part of how they gain energy.

Environmental Day not just what happens on that day, but what that day represents. Did something special happen on that day? Did a largely recognized historical event took place? Why is that day specifically Environmental Day? The incredible thing is that on that day nothing significant occurred, and I think that makes it so special, you might wonder, why? And it is because that means that people united, and are trying to find ways to protect, and preserve nature they are so passionate about it that they created a day in which to advocate for legislation on environmental issues, standards, and so much more. What makes that day special is that is a day in which everyone accepts that we are not a citizen of our country, but a citizen of this world and I am excited to be a part of that.

Environmental issues have been a great concern for many years, yet so little has been done to help it due to the lack of awareness on the subject. The idea of being able to contribute in the decision making process, in the changes being made within the state, brings about a certain proudness in knowing the effort that is being made to do the right thing.

One of the biggest reasons why I don’t really follow politics is because it confuses me quickly and there is a lot to be learned. Not just because I have to know the laws and such but because I also have to do research behind every decision and how changing one factor can have a large list of effects on other things.

I was amazed to learn that there is time of the year where hundreds of advocates meet up with states legislators to discuss possible solutions to environmental problems. Professor Nancy Miester explained how important it is for us to pay more attention to who and how we vote because the environment also depends on it. This is an important measure for us to take because the right person to vote for will be someone who cares about the environment and is concerned about the major problems.

When she mentioned she was opposing a Bill it really showed how much she stands up for what she believes and is willing to speak up about it. What I found interesting was when she said how agricultural are not environmentalist but conservationist.

I found Professor Nancy’s lecture on the environmental policies very interesting and insightful. As a democrat who believes in climate change and policies that better the environment I had me questioning whether I was doing enough to support the causes. I know Professor Nancy has gotten to go against people who strongly oppose any political involvement concerning the environment (republicans). This must not be easy, but I can see just how passionate she is for the cause. She even represented LD 13 district even when she doesn’t live there. Although environmental day has been around for 20 years, I never really looked much into it until after the lecture. As you can tell throughout my discussions before this class even started, I was very ignorant on what was going on around the world.

G. Cary Meister, Designating Wilderness in Arizona (visiting speaker, 2020) edit

Description: edit

Only congress can add wilderness, and only congress can take it away.

He mentioned that there are legal requirements to assigning a wilderness area that apply to all states and this is why a definition for wilderness was established in the Wilderness Act of 1964. Arizona has a lot of federal lands and the use of the land is controlled by congress either by adding or taking away. The process by which wilderness was designated in Arizona was easy by designating land but became difficult one designating where and how much. After all meetings they developed bills, and set out a boundary map to be checked, the bill then went through both houses but didn’t have the house of representatives’ full support, they only received half of what they thought was wilderness.

Reflection: edit

I'm glad to see that the NEPA is trying to protect the environment. It measures the effect it will have on the environment. Cary Meister began talking about the Organ Pipe National Monument and I was able to connect a lot of information to this location. I did research on the side for this location, and I learned so much about the plant and animal species in this area. I learned how important the organ pipe cactus is and that this park tries to protect these areas. One day I would like to visit this national park so that I am able to see the desert filled with these plants. It's interesting that this park has restricted the use of motorized vehicles. Cary mentioned that they have even prohibited the use of wheelchairs.

The definition of a "wilderness" as mandated by the federal government is such a mouthful. Through this presentation we saw I feel like a different side of the conservation of the environment, that is the political side, the red tape of it all. Environmentalists and conservationists already had my utmost respect but after hearing everything they have to go through Mr. Meister's presentation, I must tip my hat to them even more. I'm eternally grateful for all the people who have dedicated a portion (sometimes even most) of their lives to conserving this amazing planet. Is it better to protect these lands so they can remain the same or is it better to exploit them for money possibly destroying the area? In my opinion it is a better idea to protect these lands so they can remain to their roots and the animals in the area can live peacefully without the interaction of human beings. The more people visit an area the more that it will slowly be destroyed.

Cary Meister helped me to understand the amount of effort that is put into protecting the wilderness around us. There are many different elements on how to determine wilderness areas.

Cary Meisters presentation was very helpful and insightful in regard to helping me get a better idea of water use and the different effects it has. I think it's also nice to see that a man from our very own college is out there fighting for water rights and to be able to spread his knowledge and passion is amazing. Sadly I was not able to capture an image of one of the maps he was showing us but I think it would be very interesting to be able to look at them a little more and discuss the different water solutions he has in mind that we have not thought about. This talk really showed what grassroots organizations could accomplish, with the wilderness coalition fighting tooth and nail alongside John McCain and Mr. Udall to protect wilderness areas from lobbyists. We must not get lulled into thinking we can't fight back anymore and that we can't accomplish what these men and women did.

In class, we also touched upon the recent conflict of Trump destroying native land to build his “great” wall. At one point we as a collective must ask ourselves if the destruction of these beautiful landscapes is worth building another capitalist enterprise. Perhaps this conflict is a product of capitalism itself, but that is why we have fighters like Meister who patch the holes left by the greed of our system.

H. Karen Reichhardt, Multiple Use Management and Public Lands, (visiting speaker, 2020) edit

Desecription: edit

Burau of Land Management (BLM). This a federal agency in which focuses on the use and conservation of the land. The office that is located in Yuma Arizona manages around 1.2 million acers in Southwestern Arizona and Southeastern California. The main goal of this agency is to be able to sustain the land for the future generations She talked a lot about her career and how she got to where she is now. She started in Colorado at a community college which she liked geology classes and fell in love with botany, so she received an Associates in geology. She then went to Prescott for her undergrad where she got a degree in biology and geology. She then received her Master’s in Colorado and then got her first job in Tucson, mapping the plants of Grand Canyon national park. She got a job for Army corps of engineers which had one regulation to follow which was the clean water act. She then moved to Yuma working at the Yuma proving grounds as a consultant then received a BLM job which was the most complex.

Reflection: edit

Karen Reichardt began talking about the importance of conserving natural landscapes, and then mentioned an experience she had at the Grand Canyon. This made me reflect on the time that I went to the Grand Canyon a couple of years ago. I wasn't able to do everything that she did when she went, but I was able to walk through the Sky Walk. As she continued she mentioned that people are trying to make a landfill in an area that contains an important plant species. This is great because the organization that Karen is part of is trying to protect that area. Plant species are vital and we should conserve them. Many of these plant species have positive impacts on our environment.

It was very inspiring to see the difference Karen Reichardt's career has made in her life. I could tell she truly enjoyed and loved her job as I saw her face light up when she was talking about her past experiences and accomplishments while working for BLM. I hope to feel this same type of energy in my future job and I hope to inspire others like she did today.

I really felt for her. What a tough lady, trying to remain true to herself as an environmentalist while working for the BLM. It's hard for anyone not to become a moderate on environmental issues. We just have to accept that it hasn't worked. What has been done in the past has done a large amount of good, like the destruction of the invasive giant salvinia, there's no condemning the brutally hard work good people have done. However, we must also accept this is the information age. We now know it's not enough. It didn't work out. Things must change. The BLM, EPA, and other governmental agencies must stop pretending corporations are in dire need of lobbyists to protect the vulnerable business class from being hurt by radical environmentalists. The idea is laughable. Ossified structures must change or be left behind in helping us to save the planet. There is no more room for moderation on the environment. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), per acre, is the least funded of all the agencies. It really saddens me that there is so much potential good in the world and the fact that the only thing that keeps it from prospering is lack of money. All the organizations and projects that have failed simply due to lack of funding is quite terrible. And the only reason being that the people that ave the means of donating to such organizations don't because they won't make a marginal profit out of it. However, Ms. Karen Reichardt's story was truly inspiring, she's the living example of "when life gives you lemons make lemonade". It was a story of self-discovery. It is only human to give up once the times prove to be a little tough, however she was persistent and always moved forward. And eventually, she got to dare I say a job she loved. I can only hope to one day find myself at a job I am passionate about that brings me joy and brings others good.