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public lands

The first responsibility of a physician is to do no harm. The first responsibility of an environmentalist is never to accept a dumb solution to a problem when a better solution is available.

Case in point: Devil’s Slide south of San Francisco, a stretch of Highway 1 that would crumble into the Pacific every 10 years or so during a big storm. Rebuilding was time-consuming and expensive. The state of California sought a more permanent solution—and seized on one that ignited two decades of opposition resolved only when a doughty Earthjustice attorney finally stepped in.

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.

A hiker walks along the Colorado River.

The Colorado River has been called the lifeblood of the west; it defines our geography, sustains our fish and wildlife, feeds and powers our cities. Without it, our lives and heritage would be fundamentally different—which is why Earthjustice and the conservation community have fought for years to preserve and protect this great river.

But, the thirst for Colorado River water is proving too great.

Time has run out for the enemies of roadless wilderness. They spent 12 years trying to kill the national law protecting our forests, and yesterday a federal district court said they couldn’t have a minute more—the statute of limitations had run out.

This means you better grab a compass when heading into a national forest because you can get lost amid all the trees saved by this law, known as the Roadless Rule.

Thanks to a recent federal court decision, visitors to Utah’s public wild lands can continue to raft the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument without seeing oil derricks around the river’s bends.

They can continue to enjoy the outlook from Canyonlands National Park’s Grand View Point without drill rigs littering the landscape.

And they won’t be forced to see the formations at Arches National Park as gateways to increased carbon emissions and environmental disruption.

Blog posts about Earth's magnificent places and creatures were the most popular themes for unEarthed readers in 2012. By far the most-read post concerned Arctic drilling, followed by reports of bison being restored and wolves losing protection. Not shown in our top 10 blog posts, below, are the delightful tales of curious critters painted in words by our own Shirley Hao. Posts written years ago by Shirley are still being discovered and read by thousands of people every year.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently announced a final plan for managing the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a vast and wild area in northwestern Alaska that provides vital habitat for caribou, countless shorebirds, waterfowl, bears, wolves and wolverines, among others.

Last week, supporters of the controversial drilling practice know as fracking held a rally in Denver. According to media reports, one booster drew laughs from the crowd when he said that fracking’s economic benefits would eventually "trickle down to attorneys [and] doctors."

Colorado doctors are probably already seeing increased business because of fracking, but not in a humorous way.

The American people have reinvested their faith in a President who now has a second chance to put this nation on course to a prosperous future built on clean energy and with a far-reaching goal of ending mankind’s role in climate change.

In the wake of superstorm Sandy, voters saw—and many continue to experience—the impacts of climate change-induced weather. They are convinced and, like us, demand that President Obama take action to steer us away from the fossil fuels that feed climate change. This is the real path to energy independence.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.