At Earthjustice, we are not waging academic battles. While our cases play out in the courts, our work is firmly rooted in the real world. Behind the motions, arguments and decisions are people, wildlife and places whose fate depends on the outcome of our litigation.
Success in our work increasingly requires that we turn to a powerful tool—Geographic Information Systems, or GIS—to understand the where, when, what and who of our issues.
The San Pedro River of southern Arizona took a step towards a sustainable future this spring with the release of what we hope will be an effective plan to balance the operations of the Army’s Fort Huachuca with the needs of endangered species that depend on the river.
Colorado has emerged as a western ground zero in the fracking boom, with more than 50,000 active wells in the state and 3,000 wells permitted annually on average in recent years. The state is struggling to deal with this staggering growth as well as the changing nature of the industry as operations have moved into communities along the Front Range.
Two endangered species that call the San Pedro River in Southern Arizona home—the Huachuca water umbel and southwestern willow flycatcher –should have their long-term survival guaranteed under the Endangered Species Act. Unfortunately, those species have waited in vain for that help while two federal agencies have dragged their feet.
We’re less than a month in, but 2014 is already shaping up to be a tough year for rivers. Across the nation, from West Virginia to California, the headlines have been bleak. In the Rocky Mountain region, we’re gearing up for a long year defending the Colorado and San Pedro rivers.
It is rewarding to successfully wrap-up a case. This can be especially true when our work protects special places, preserving them for future generations. It is a pleasure to be able to point at a map and say, “Those are the places that were saved.”
Earthjustice has worked with our partners for more than a decade to sustain the San Pedro River of southern Arizona. Our attorneys have taken legal action—a series of cases challenging inappropriate groundwater depletions by the U.S. Army’s Fort Huachuca—to keep water in the river until a balance can be struck between the needs of the river and the local communities.
There is no dispute that the Thompson Divide—a 220,000-acre forested wildland in western Colorado—is a special place. It comprises some of the most valuable and diverse mid-elevation forested landscapes in Colorado and includes the headwaters of streams that sustain the Crystal, Roaring Fork and North Fork valleys.
The Roan Plateau stands proudly above the Colorado River, an island of refuge in the sea of energy development that threatens to industrialize much of western Colorado. The Plateau contains more than 30 square miles of pristine wildlands and is one of the most biologically rich landscapes in Colorado.
The upper San Pedro River valley in Arizona is the epitome of the Wild West. Open and arid, stretching north from Mexico and lying in the shadow of the rugged Huachuca Mountains, the valley looks much the same as it did more than a century ago when miners and settlers uneasily shared the land. It is a place where the long shadows at sunset bring visitors back to a long-past time.