Categories Archives: Biodiversity & Habitat Destruction

If you are not outraged, why not?

From WildLands Defense Colorado

Blaze, the mother bear just killed in Yellowstone, with a family of cubs.

Blaze, the mother bear just killed in Yellowstone, with a family of cubs.

If you are not outraged at the way this culture destroys life, why not?

If you are not outraged at the murder of Blaze just two days ago, why not?

If you are not outraged at John Waggoner for annihilating 2000 acres of prairie dogs for a tract home development, why not?

Bison that are continually under threat of being killed for roaming or because they are blamed, much like prairie dogs, for the spread of brucellosis. If you are not outraged at the continuous slaughter of the last remaining bison in Yellowstone that happens yearly, why not?

If you are not outraged at Wildlife Services for killing over 2 million animals—at taxpayers expense, on a yearly basis—why not?

This culture continually destroys the planet and time is running out. 200 species go extinct each and every day. 99% of grassland prairies are destroyed, 98% of old growth forests gone, every single stream is full of dioxins, along with every mother’s breast milk.

Echo, the beautiful wolf killed by a hunter who was never penalized. If you are not outraged about Echo, the beautiful wolf that traveled 750 miles to the Grand Canyon only to be shot by a hunter who got away with this atrocity without any repercussions, why not?

All of the integral keystone species of life are on the chopping block, heading fast towards extinction. Our strategies and tactics MUST change. We can not stand by any longer and watch our world continuously unravel as the sociopaths lead all of us closer and closer to extinction.

Two beautiful prairie dogs recently poisoned by John Waggoner at the Crowfoot in the Castle Rock Colorado area

Two beautiful prairie dogs recently poisoned by John Waggoner at the Crowfoot in the Castle Rock Colorado area

It is time to fight, fight for the living, to do what it takes to save what remains. Don’t continue to turn away. Insist on protecting life and defending your beloved by any means necessary. It is time we roll up our sleeves and get to work. Let us all join together, realize what is at stake, and begin the hard work of forcing change that will protect the future.

Visit WildLands Defense or Deep Green Resistance to find out how to help.

Sealed Fate of the Crowfoot Valley Prairie Dog Colony

by Deanna Meyer, Deep Green Resistance Colorado

The crowfoot valley prairie dog colony site, with thousands of burrows covered over and poisoned. The once vibrant landscape was full of jump yips and prairie dog calls just a week ago. Now the entire landscape is eerily silent, with turkey vultures, eagles and ravens circling the area to feed on poisoned prairie dogs.

When we visited the Crowfoot site to confirm the mass annihilation of the last large colony of prairie dogs in the Castle Rock area, we found that all the burrows were packed hard as concrete. I tried to shovel out the burrows but could not because they were packed so tight. Fumitoxin was most likely the poison used to kill this amazing colony. I think it is very difficult, but extremely important, for all of us to understand what fumitoxin does to these prairie dogs. I kept imagining the thousands upon thousands of prairie dogs trapped in their burrows suffering excruciatingly from the horror that John Waggoner and his hired hands brought to these sentient beings.

Derrick Jensen researched the effects of fumitoxin and wrote the following description of what happens to these prairie dog families. The only thing that is not spot on about this description is the length of time it takes for a prairie dog to die. Fumitoxin causes a slow death, between 2-7 days as the animals inner organs slowly melt and bleed out inside of them.

One of the burrows at the Crowfoot Valley site where Lowe Enterprises hired exterminators to bury the prairie dogs alive by shoving poison in their holes and packing them tight as concrete to seal in their fate.

One of the burrows at the Crowfoot Valley site where Lowe Enterprises hired exterminators to bury the prairie dogs alive by shoving poison in their holes and packing them tight as concrete to seal in their fate.

This is what happens.

You don’t panic when the first entrance is sealed. There’s no reason to: that’s why there are multiple exits. You move to the next exit. It also is sealed. You’re still not concerned. Of all places, this is where you’re supposed to be safe. Nonetheless it is troubling that two entrances are sealed. You check out a third, and a fourth. All sealed.

You’re not the only one to notice. Many of the younger members of your community are confused, discomfited. You and some of the others of older generations reassure them, the same way members of older generations among your kind have always reassured those younger when they’re scared. You say again and again, “It’s going to be okay.”

Others do start to calm. Then one of your daughters—she’s nothing more than a pup, really—begins to complain of nausea. Her grandmother —your mother—rushes to her side, begins to stroke her head and back, talking to her constantly. Then one of your nephews doubles over, begins moaning from abdominal cramping. Someone, too, rushes to his side. The nephew lets go with explosive diarrhea. This does not deter the elder from comforting him.

You find the father of your children. You sense something wrong. You cannot tell what it is. He opens his mouth as if to speak, and blood gushes out. Without a thought you begin touching and stroking his hair, whispering to him. Blood starts coming from his nose, from his other orifices. He cramps, then begins to convulse. He tries to speak. You say to him softly, “Don’t talk. You’re going to be okay. You’re going to be okay.”

Another burrow packed in by prairie dog exterminators.

Another burrow packed in by prairie dog exterminators.

You’re having a hard time holding down your own panic. Around you, your friends and family are losing control of their bodies. They are vomiting, defecating, bleeding all over themselves. Some are moaning or keening. A few are screaming. You want to attend to them, but you need to help your love.

And then his body stiffens, seizes, seizes, then seizes. Something shifts inside of him, and something leaves, and he is finished.

You turn away, turn toward the chaos that until very recently was your community. You begin to bark out commands, telling this one to take care of the young, that one to start trying to find a way out. You don’t know what is killing you all. You just know there must be a relationship between the forced sealing of the entrances and the deaths that have now followed. But no one seems to be listening to you. They are vomiting, convulsing, seizing. Those who can still control their limbs are clawing at the walls. You move from individual to individual, trying to calm those you can, comfort those you can’t. You keep saying to anyone who will listen, “We will get out of here.”

And then you feel it. Your mouth begins to water, and the first wave of nausea rolls through you. You force it down, but it returns. Your chest tightens, and in that moment you know—as you’ve known all along, but would not allow yourself to say, even to yourself—how this will end. You begin to vomit blood, and you desperately wish that there was someone here to touch and kiss and stroke you, someone to whisper to you over and over, “It’s going to be okay.”

But no one appears.

Prairie dog pup who made it to the surface by digging out of his burrow before being killed by Fumitoxin poison.

Prairie dog pup who made it to the surface by digging out of his burrow before being killed by Fumitoxin poison.

Contact John Waggoner, the individual in charge of directing this mass killing, if you haven’t done so already.

John Waggoner
Lowe Enterprises
303-850-2401
email: johnwaggoner@loweenterprises.com

Also contact the founder and executive director of Lowe Enterprises to let them know that we will not accept this slaughter and do not want this development in our community and world.

Robert Lowe:  robertlowe@loweenterprises.com

Save the Prairie Dogs: A Case Study

Deanna Meyer of Deep Green Resistance Colorado and Brian Ertz of Wildlands Defense teamed up to organize a 2015 campaign to delay construction of a Castle Rock, Colorado, mega-mall to save threatened prairie dogs. They discuss the campaign and some broader lessons for activists.

 

Prairie Dog Action Alert!

Action Alert!

PrairieDogMotherChild

Please let Channel 7 news know that their coverage of the following story lacked factual information and was unacceptable. With prairie dogs disappearing across the landscape with populations at less than 1% of their historic numbers, it is more important now than ever that the truth is told and that prairie dogs are not associated with vile rumors built on insubstantial lies.

Phone: 303-832-7777
email: 7NEWS@thedenverchannel.com

In the Channel 7 news clip, channel 7 news inadvertently tries to blame the plague on prairie dogs. There is no evidence that this is the case, and if it were, the prairie dogs involved would be dead as the colonies “plague out” and die within 3 days to a week if they have plague carrying fleas. There is absolutely no evidence that any of the prairie dogs in Larimar County were infected with plague carrying fleas or that the teen in this story contracted the plague from prairie dogs. Any “rodent” can have the fleas and dogs and cats actually carry the plague.

Keep the following prairie dog facts in mind:

“Prairie dogs are too busy dying from the plague to act as carriers and spread the disease. Prairie dogs lack immunity to plague, and mortality rates from outbreaks can exceed 99% of prairie dog populations. Prairie dogs typically die within a few days after contact with the plague bacterium. Other mammals, such as cats and dogs, do carry the plague. Plague in humans is easily treatable with standard antibiotics. While humans should take the health threat posed by plague seriously, the chances of catching it from a prairie dog are much less than the danger of being struck by lightning. In fact, some of the cases of direct transmission of plague from prairie dogs to humans involved people killing and skinning the animals.”

PrairieDogJoy

Follow the Facebook page Save the Castle Rock Mall Prairie Dogs for updates.

 

PrairieDogs08

Paiute Nation Protests Forest-Service Clearcutting of Pine-Nut Trees Near Reno, NV

By Deep Green Resistance Great Basin

BREAKING NEWS: Paiute Nation Protests Forest-Service Clearcutting of Pine-Nut Trees Near Reno, NV

Tubape Numu: Pine-nut People

Members of the Paiute nation living in northeastern Nevada are angry after the Forest Service clearcut more than 70 acres of pine nuts trees that have been used by the tribe for thousands of years, until the modern day.

According to the Forest Service, the trees were cut “by mistake” as part of a federal plan to improve habitat for the Sage Grouse (a story that Deep Green Resistance Great Basin has previously covered). Tribal members disagree, stating that clearcutting these forests will not help the Sage Grouse and should not be done without consultation and approval from the native people.

More than 70 acres of pinenut and cedar trees were cut.

Here at Deep Green Resistance, we are all too aware of the long history of “destruction disguised as restoration.” It’s a pattern that the Forest Service has been guilty of in the past, when it has used the cover-story of “forest health” to justify extensive clearcutting — including cutting old growth forests — in the Pacific Northwest.

More information about this situation is documented in the book Strangely Like War by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan, which begins with a quote from the logging industry:

“It was strangely like war. They attacked the forest as if it were an enemy to be pushed back from the beachheads, driven into the hills, broken into patches, and wiped out. Many operators thought they were not only making lumber but liberating the land from the trees.”
— Murray Morgan, 1955

This video posted on Facebook last week by Myron Dewey, a Paiute tribal member, explains more about the issue of these pine nut trees:

Dewey and others in the Paiute Nation protests group have set up a website,www.Tubape.org, to address the issue further. Here is an excerpt from the website:

From Facebook: "Pictured here is a Grinding Stone with rainwater collected from snow & rain. Behind is the Pinenut Tree that was cut down not too long ago. Goes to show we been in this area and no matter how they put it we had been coming into the Sweetwater area for thousands of years. #PinenutsAreThePeople No Justification to cutting down our relatives. They need to set it right and leave this area alone. Ndn people come from all over to pick in this area and if we say it's ok for 1 area, they gonna want more. Greed and $$$ can't bring back our pinenuts."

“The local Tribal governments and Indigenous people of Nevada and California are aware of the Carson City District resource management plans to conserve, enhance, and/or restore habitats to provide for the long-term viability of the Greater Sage-grouse Bi-state Distinct Population Segment. This action is needed to address the recent ‘warranted, but precluded’ Endangered Species Act (ESA) finding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) by addressing needed changes in the management and conservation of the Bi-state Distinct Population Segment habitats within the project area to support overall greater sage-grouse population management objectives within the states of Nevada and California.

“However, we disagree with your proposed action and request that you CEASE and DESIST immediately! Your agency’s are destroying our fishing, hunting and gathering sites as well as sacred sites within the Sweetwater Range and all areas within your DEIS. We have pictures and video’s taken by tribal members from the local areas. We demand that you comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that specifically states your agency is legally bound to comply with Executive Order 13175 and your Trust Responsibility to the Tribes.
You have intentionally destroyed our Pine trees (Tu’ba’pe) forests in Sweetwater (Pehabe Paa’a), Desert Creek (Pazeeta Nahu Gwaytu), Sand Canyon (Kiba Mobegwaytu), the territory of the Paiute (Numu) people and all of the Pinenut (Tu’ba’pe) trees and cedar (Wapi) trees in the Great Basin.”

Read more at www.tubape.org

Local news coverage in the Reno Gazette-Journal:http://www.rgj.com/videos/news/2015/02/07/23049559/

We will continue to post information about this struggle.

Help Save the Castle Rock Mall Prairie Dogs

By Deep Green Resistance Colorado

The ‘Nation’s Biggest Mall’, planned  for Douglas County, Colorado, would kill one of the largest prairie dog colonies on Colorado’s Front Range. Currently, Alberta Development LLC is in charge of the construction and annihilation of this prairie dog colony, which is critical to the plains’ biodiversity and long-range health. Alberta Development is planning on eradicating 40 acres of the prairie dogs on or around the second week of February. We may not be able to halt construction, but we can at least relocate as many of the prairie dogs as possible. We need to find willing landowners to take on 100 acres of prairie dogs.

prairie dog

Help save them.

We also need to run a media campaign to convince Alberta Development to hold off on construction until June so we can relocate the prairie dogs in a way that will ensure their survival.

Please help us by donating to this cause so we can share this story with concerned individuals through media outlets, using various means to encourage Alberta Development to do the right thing and landowners to take in this colony.

To help, please head to this indiegogo link:

https://life.indiegogo.com/fundraisers/save-the-castle-rock-mall-prairie-dogs/x/1002347

The ‘Nation’s Biggest Mall’ in Colorado Will Destroy One of the Largest Prairie Dog Colonies on Colorado’s Front Range

Editor’s Note: This first appeared on Deep Green Resistance Colorado‘s website.

prairie dog kiss J

by Bellmeadow, Deep Green Resistance Member

Recently I heard news that our county (Douglas) was getting one of the nation’s biggest malls. The news simultaneously sunk my heart and angered me. Why the hell do we need another mall? To consume the world? Then my mind raced to the location of the mall, and the prairie dogs that live there. I had been worried about this colony before, about the strong possibility that the remaining colonies comprising hundreds of prairie dogs would be destroyed for some kind of development. After all, a Lowe’s store, an outlet mall, a housing project, and a tire store had occupied their territory and had already killed thousands of these dogs in the name of “development.” And this was the final solution for the 3,000 to 8,000 remaining burrows: complete annihilation of the prairie dogs for a shopping mall set to cover 170 acres in concrete.

Once the news sunk in, I called the town of Castle Rock, where the new mall is slated to be developed and spoke with the government official in charge of the construction. I was given the contact information of the individual working with Alberta Development (the development company constructing the mall) on the prairie dog “problem.” She was kind and helpful, as developers are trained to be when it comes to dealing with “pesky environmentalists” and let me know that the current plan for the prairie dogs was to cage them, kill them, and send them off to the nearest raptor farm to feed the birds. All the dogs. Hundreds of prairie dog families sucked up out of their only homes, caged, killed, and fed to the raptors. She informed me they had tried to find new places for them to be relocated, but had no success, so this was the only possibility left for the prairie dogs. She extended an invitation to help her find relocation areas with assurance that if we found a place, they would cover the costs for the relocation and support us in any way they could to make that transfer happen. All I needed to do was find private land owners in Douglas County who were willing to have prairie dogs on their land. I knew that in our county, it would not be easy to locate such land owners. Ranchers and conservatives have a long history of deep-seated hatred for these animals as they perceive prairie dogs as a nuisance and a threat to their cash herds and crops. Landowners by and large are perfectly willing to accept prairie dog extermination as good business practice.

Grabbing my camera, my next plan of action was to visit these prairie dog families and spend some time with them, to witness what was happening with the development of the mall. As I drove past the thousands of burrows, my heart was racing and sadness pulsated through me. I found a good spot to pull over and started to listen and watch as I walked among the dogs. Individual scouts were sitting on top of their burrows chatting away, relaying information to their families below. People studying prairie dogs have found that the colonies have their own distinct languages and dialects and have different words for coyotes, hawks, snakes and humans. They even distinguish between the different colors of shirts people are wearing. As I watched them chatting, I was imagining what it was they were communicating to each other. I assumed they were sharing that a scary person holding a strange contraption was encroaching on their homes and they were taking their necessary precautions. After all, it was just a couple weeks before when Alberta Development created a rock crushing area that destroyed hundreds of homes and buried their neighbors alive.

As I walked among their colonies, their alert calls became louder and several of them sat on top of their burrows with tails wagging in tune to their chattering warning calls. As I watched, they started to get used to me and stopped being on high alert. I could see them stretching out on the top of their homes and several of them were in pairs and were hugging and kissing each other while they were basking in the sun. One of the dogs wobbled towards me in a brave and playful manner until he lost his bearings and decided to race back to his friend for comfort. As I watched these families and friends rolling, eating, singing and calling out warnings, trucks, heavy equipment and one car after another raced around them with deafening roars. It didn’t require much imagination to understand how stressful and terrifying it must be to live in this chaos and danger every day, to be forced to witness friends and family being smashed by giant, smoking machines, to be evicted to far corners of their world, the only places left to survive, constantly uprooted by the encroachment of a “civilized” human world where malls and parking lots take priority over the living biomes of multitudes of diverse lives. This fate is what is left for all of them, despite their ability to thrive on the land for generation upon generation.

Prairie dogs are an essential component of the health and biodiversity of the prairies and are considered keystone species, meaning they are essential to the balance of prairie life. The biodiversity that exists in these biomes cannot remain in healthy balance without their existence. There are at least 170 known species that are dependent on the prairie dogs for survival and when the prairie dogs are removed from these areas, those other species can no longer survive and the prairies lose their biodiversity. Prairie dog colonies are the preferred grazing areas for ungulates; the nutrient-dense plants that grow there are a result of the dogs digging up nutrients that become readily available for the plants to absorb. Contrary to myth, there has never been one documented case of an animal being so ignorant as to step into their burrows.

Before the rise of the consumerist culture on this continent, prairie dogs were densely populated throughout the prairies. The largest known colony covered 25,000 square miles and was home to perhaps 400 million prairie dogs. The total range was about 150,000 to 200,000 square miles and the population of the prairie dogs was well over a billion. The colony here in Douglas County is now one of the largest on the Front Range, and consists of between 3,000 and 8,000 burrows covering approximately 150 acres. The prairie dogs are now reduced to three percent of their range and less than one percent of their population and are truly an endangered species, but are not labeled as such because of their inappropriate status of “pest.” Such labeling makes it easy for otherwise squeamish developers to do the dirty work associated with their elimination, and to sell this practice to the uninformed.

After my visit with the prairie dogs, I contacted the developer to inquire what my timeline was for finding a relocation spot. The developer informed me (in late November) that we had to find a home for them no later than late March. However, in working with the Prairie Dog Coalition of the Humane Society of the United States, I learned that relocating prairie dogs any time before June is problematic and carries a lower success (survival) rate. Female prairie dogs spend the better part of the fall and winter preparing for their babies by building a nesting room in their burrows. After months of working on these nests, they get pregnant in January and February. After giving birth, females tend to stay down inside their burrows until April to May, once their babies are mature enough to come out of their nests. If the colony is disturbed after they have had their babies between March and May, the babies and the mothers will be buried alive because they do not leave their nest area. This is why Colorado Parks and Wildlife doesn’t give permits for relocation to take place until June 1st.

The ground is also cold and often frozen in Colorado at this time of the year with little edible vegetation, making the chances for relocation success even slimmer. This is compounded by the trauma prairie dog families and friends experience from being sucked out of their burrows and spewed into cages, then transported (if they even survive that far) to an unfamiliar area leaving all these vulnerable animals terrified, traumatized and separated from their relatives, which is alone enough to kill them. Further, they face the dangers of being buried alive in burrows, crushed under the wheels of construction machinery, or being killed for sport by bored workers, spectators, or trespassers. Prairie dog relocation is harsh enough in a “good” time of the year, but in March the chances for their survival are bleak indeed. If these prairie dogs are to be given any reasonable chance to live, our priority is to convince Alberta Development to wait until June so we have time to find a relocation spot where they will have a chance to survive.

I once again head back to the remnant of what was once a vibrant prairie dog colony to contemplate the next steps I should take to ensure their survival. I see the thousands of burrows and hundreds of dogs spread across the landscape, surviving against the odds of a culture hell bent on destruction. The sun beams down on their homes and they start to chatter and run back and forth across the ground, to their burrows. All around them I see the construction starting to take place: the large dirt mounds, the huge trucks rolling back and forth, the rock crushing area that recently buried hundreds of them alive. What words did those families share with each other as their world turned dark, as they desperately sucked in their last breath of air as the oxygen left their burrows? What will the remaining families communicate as the machines of death dump concrete over their only homes? Will they have words for their holocaust? What words will they use if they are sucked up into cages only to be euthanized and fed to raptors? How will the mothers deal with the loss of their children from whom they are separated in transport, if in fact they are not killed along the way? All these thoughts race through my head and continue to do so.

All for a shopping mall. A mall we don’t need and don’t even pretend to. But life wants to live and these dogs need this land. They need a place that will sustain them and future generations. And the prairies need these animals. The hawks need them, the coyotes, the fox and the black-footed ferret. We need these animals, whether or not we choose to see it. We need private landowners who are willing to bring these creatures onto their land, not as a work of charity or penance for sins imagined or real, but to improve the biodiversity of the prairies. We need to fight for the prairie dogs, because they cannot fight against the machines paving their homes with concrete to erect more malls that are continuously failing in our current economy. The fate of these dogs rests with us, and it is not enough to stand by, wringing our hands as we witness yet another tragedy. We must stand together and put pressure on Alberta Development to, at the minimum, put off construction of “the nation’s biggest mall” until June in order to give these prairie dogs a chance at survival. And then we need to wake up to the understanding that prairie dogs are a keystone species on our prairies and begin to welcome them back home.

Questioning allegiance to renewables

Editor’s Note: This originally appeared on Deep Green Resistance UK‘s web page.  Thanks to Norris Thomlinson for posting.

windfarmDeep Green Resistance recently posted a new set of FAQs on the main website, addressing the myths of Green Technology & Renewable Energy. In that same vein, here’s a first-hand observation of the impacts of supposedly “clean” wind turbines on a Scottish forest fragmented by the machines and their access roads. The article makes clear the stark choice we face: industrialism or life.

I’ve recently been planting trees at a wind farm. Every morning, we’ve had to drive up a forestry road and top a large hill covered in hectare upon hectare of Sitka spruce. At the top of the hill, the spruce forest has been levelled and a giant construction project has taken place. Wind turbines twenty or thirty stories high spin with alarming speed.

Siemens headed the project, receiving the contract to build the turbines to be owned by Scottish and Southern Energy. The resulting moonscape, crisscrossed by individual access roads, reminds me of the areal shots I’ve seen of fracked well pads dotted all over the American and Australian landscapes. Twisted interconnected roads leading nowhere in a bizarre irregular grid pattern. I guess this is the signature of new and upcoming energy extraction projects: each productive unit, whether it be wind turbine or fracking well, is only nominally productive on it’s own when compared to industrial demand and ‘conventional’ power plant outputs.

Read the entire article: Reneging on the environmental movement’s allegiance to renewables

Mexico: Researcher Raises Alert About Environmental Dangers of Wind Farms

Many Thanks to Truthout for permission to reprint this article.

By Renata Bessi, Santiago Navarro F. and Translated by Britt Munro and Sarah Farr, Truthout 

September 17, 2014

2014 917 wind 6bThe wind turbines of the Biioxo Wind Farm are located on land that used to be cultivated. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

The Tehuantepec Isthmus, a southern region of Mexico that includes the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Tabasco and Veracruz, holds the highest concentration of wind farms in Latin America. The Isthmus, measuring a mere 200 kilometers between the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, is the third narrowest strip of land on the continent, following Nicaragua and the Panama Canal. A total of 28 wind farms have been planned for construction, 15 of which have already been completed.

The region is ideal for the construction of wind farms since high wind speeds are constant throughout the year. “The southern Andes converge at the Tehuantepec Isthmus, creating a kind of tunnel effect the same width as the land strip. This ensures that the winds gain great strength and reach a high velocity,” explains Patricia Mora, a research professor in coastal ecology and fisheries science at the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Comprehensive Regional Development, Oaxaca Unit (CIIDIR Oaxaca), at the National Institute of Technology.

An environmental impact study conducted by the URS Corporation Mexico at the request of Natural Gas Fenosa, which was used to justify the construction of the Biino Hioxo park in Juchitan de Zaragoza, Oaxaca, concluded that the development of a wind farm “in this area of the state of Oaxaca is a clear example of sustainable development” and that “the project is environmentally viable as it utilizes renewable resources and does not generate significant environmental impacts.”

But while environmental impact reports tend to support the construction of these wind farm parks, local communities and environmentalists are raising concerns that local flora and fauna are being affected. The cases of the Barra Santa Theresa in Alvaro Obregon and San Vicente Beach in Juchitán de Zaragoza are of particular interest. “This is the meeting point of various intimately related aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, known as ‘ecotones.’ What occurs in each distinct ecosystem affects the dynamic on a larger scale, placing the existence of the adjoining ecosystems in danger,” Mora said.

2014 917 wind 1Cattle and other livestock are raised close to the wind turbines of the Biioxo Wind Farm. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

In a detailed interview, the biologist explained what the environmental impact reports omit: the real impacts on the flora and fauna of the Tehuantepec Isthmus. These negative impacts extend not only throughout Mexico, but also into the ecosystems of Central America.

Mora even casts doubts about the way in which these environmental studies are conducted. “Generally there are ‘agreements’ behind closed doors between the consultants or research centers and the government offices before the studies are conducted. They fill out forms with copied information (and sometimes badly copied), lies or half truths in order to divert attention from the real project while at the same time complying with requirements on paper.”

In the following interview, Mora discusses the realities of the wind farms’ impacts – and how environmental impact studies are often manipulated to serve the interests of corporations.

Truthout: What could be the large-scale impacts on the flora and fauna in the TehuantepecIsthmus ecological corridor, principally in the Barra Santa Theresa, San Vicente Beach and La Ventosa?

The impacts will be seen on two time scales. First, the direct impact. When a project is installed, the first step is to “dismantle” the area, a process through which all surrounding vegetation is eliminated. This means the destruction of plants and sessilities – organisms that do not have stems or supporting mechanisms – and the slow displacement over time of reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, insects, arachnids, fungi, etc.

Generally we perceive the macro scale only, that is to say, the large animals, without considering the small and even microscopic organisms. But the most harm occurs in the micro scale. Often these organisms are not even identified, yet curiously, they are the organisms that in reality keep the ecosystems alive and balanced. In many of Mexico’s ecosystems, we are only recently cataloguing the full diversity of species. This process depends on the availability of researchers, funding and the accessibility of the zone. This is why there are still many endemic and native species that are recognized as endangered on national and even international lists.

After the construction is finalized, the indirect impact continues in the sense that ecosystems are altered and fragmented. As a result, there is a larger probability of their disappearance, due to changes in the climate and the use of soil.

What is the importance of the ecosystems in this region?

They are considered extremely fragile. As a result of their location in semiarid zones where the water cycle is vital, these ecosystems act as retainers of humidity and their disappearance drastically changes the humidity of the soil. When vegetation disappears, these ecosystems are converted into completely uninhabited deserts and solar radiation changes the dynamic of the soil, prohibiting the growth of new vegetation.

The relationship between humans and the environment is changing – we no longer have respect for the land and this contributes to a greater deterioration. Almost nobody considers this effect. The land is no longer perceived as our provider. It has been converted into a commodity.

In particular, I would like to point out the case of the Barra Santa Teresa and San Vicente Beach, as here we find ourselves at the meeting point of various intimately related aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, known as “ecotones.” What occurs in each distinct ecosystem affects the dynamic on a larger scale, placing the existence of the adjoining ecosystems in danger.

Mexico’s coastal zones are extremely abundant and rich in diversity. Not only are there terrestrial organisms, but also aquatic organisms. In these zones we speak of thousands of species, many of which are not evident at first glance.

A dramatic example is the millions of viruses found in the world’s oceans. Generally, we think of viruses as bad things and we associate them with sickness, but this is a great falsehood. Viruses, like bacteria, are responsible for life on earth and for the richness and diversity of that life. In short, we need them to maintain life on this planet.

In coastal zones we find mangrove ecosystems, coastal dunes, and supra and infra littoral zones. We can make the claim that coastal vegetation plays a vital role in the humidity of these coastal zones. When this vegetation disappears, these ecosystems become deserts – inert and without life. Erosion creates havoc on the coastal border, encouraging the extinction of coastal lagoons and increasing the salinity of the soil, rendering it useless for agriculture.

Climate change will also lead to the disappearance of vegetation, removing natural barriers against air currents, tropical storms and cyclones. The life cycles of many species will be truncated. For example, reptiles require certain temperatures in order to create equal numbers of male and female offspring and to incubate that offspring. Since they cannot regulate their own body temperature, they depend on the temperature of their surrounding environment.

Mangroves act as refuges for aquatic species. In fact, the Laguna Superior is one of the most important sanctuaries in Mexico for terrestrial species. It forms part of the Mesoamerican corridor, through which thousands of birds from hundreds of different species pass. The lagoons are wetland refuges, providing resting places and food for these birds. If the mangroves disappear, the birds will lose this important resting place, which could contribute to their extinction. Bats would also be affected by changes in light and sound.

Wind turbines create a magnetic field. Could the magnetic fields produced by wind turbines have consequences for microorganisms found in the soil or for humans?

There is abundant information about the harm caused by the sound waves produced by wind turbines. These sound waves are not perceptible to the human ear, which makes them all the more dangerous. They are also low frequency sound waves and act upon the pineal and nervous systems, causing anxiety, depression (there is a study from the United States that found an elevated suicide rate in regions with wind farms), migraines, dizziness and vomiting, among other symptoms. Western science has given very little weight to electromagnetic and sound waves. In contrast, Eastern science, which gives greater importance to the flow of energy through the body, links the origin of many illnesses to the pollution we generate through the emission of human-made energy flows. The harm caused by this pollution has only recently begun to be accepted.

2014 917 wind 5During times of harvest and planting, the farmers live in cabins close to the Biioxo Wind Farm. (Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

There are also consequences for other living beings. Many animals, such as bats, orient themselves through the use of sound frequencies. Among marine animals, fish are another example – they guide themselves using the electromagnetic frequencies that pass through their bodies. Other animals also use similar mechanisms and it is difficult to gauge the full effect that the disruption of these frequencies might have.

I had the opportunity to personally observe an example of this problem at an aquarium in Mazatlán, Mexico. The aquarium’s sharks were swimming erratically, crashing into the glass, and refusing to eat. It turned out that the aquarium had recently repaired the shark tank using different iron screws than the previous screws. When the aquarium removed these new screws, the sharks’ behavior returned to normal. The material of the new screws had created a different magnetic field. A few simple screws.

Some animal species are positively phototropic, meaning that they are attracted by light. For example, one can commonly observe insects near streetlights at night or near computer screens in dark rooms. Some fishing techniques even take advantage of this trait, which is found in shrimp and other species. The migration patterns of some species are related to the moon cycle. The coastal wind farm projects that illuminate the night interfere with the cycles, causing an unusual number of animal and insect deaths, which can be observed on nearby beaches.

One would assume that these companies should conduct environmental impact studies related to their projects. Do companies conduct such studies? What are the parameters of these studies? What do they contemplate? Who does follow-up?

What happens is absolute corruption. I have to admit that generally there are “agreements” behind closed doors between the consultants or research centers and the government offices before the studies are conducted. They fill out forms with copied information (and sometimes badly copied), lies or half truths in order to divert attention from the real project while at the same time complying with requirements on paper. Unfortunately, consultants sometimes take advantage of high unemployment and hire inexperienced people or unemployed career professionals without proper titles. Sometimes the consultants even coerce them into modifying the data.

Research centers, pressured by a lack of funding, accept these studies. It is well known that scientists recognized by CONACYT (National Counsel on Science and Technology) accept gifts from these companies, given that they need money to buy equipment for their laboratories and to fill their pocketbooks to maintain their lifestyles. This is the extent of the corruption. Upon reviewing these studies, it is clear that the findings are trash, sometimes even directly copied from other sources online. These studies tend to focus on the “benefits of the project” and do not include rigorous analysis.

The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) does follow-up to the studies, but everything can be negotiated. The bureaucrats have the last word.

What would be the effects on the ecosystem, including the local communities, if a native animal species were to migrate to another space or disappear as a result of the wind farm project?

The majority of species have specific habitational niches. There are very few pioneering species that are capable of inhabiting new environments. The acclimation of each species depends on its life cycle and its adaptability. To give a concrete example, marine turtles always return to the same beach where they were born. If that beach were to disappear, they would have nowhere to return. Mangroves could be similarly affected since they are located in intertidal zones. Changes to the surf’s intensity, the depth of the water or the water’s salinity could cause them to disappear.

Many of these communities depend on fishing and agriculture, not only in economic terms but also culturally. What effects could these mega projects, with such a large number of wind turbines, have on communities?

The inhabitants would have to leave behind their traditional activities. Migration and misery would be their future. You can see how this has happened in other areas of the country. They would lose their culture and a lifestyle that has a deep respect for nature. For example, in the northwest coastal region of the country, the arrival of these projects has displaced the fishing communities and farmers. Today, many of these people and their children have migrated. In the worst cases, they have joined the drug trafficking business.

What is known about the first of these projects – Pilot Project La Ventosa – in terms of environmental impact? What have been the benefits and consequences of the project?

Very little is known about that project. Actually, environmental impact studies about it used to go unnoticed or were not conducted.

It is also unclear what the benefits have been – the statistics are not clear. To the contrary, the fact that communities have begun to organize against these projects reflects the discontent and the negligible benefit.

2014 917 wind 3(Photo: Santiago Navarro F.)

The only benefit has been for the companies. The carbon credits they have received have allowed them to avoid taxes and have permitted them to continue polluting. Companies have seen spectacular earnings through the use of these carbon credits in stock exchanges. In summary, the only benefits have been for the transnational companies. There has been a high cost to the environment, which continues to be damaged by climate change. In fact, this damage is worse than what had been previously estimated, as the most recent findings by the United Nations show.

Copyright, Truthout.org. Reprinted with permission

How to Stop Off Road Vehicles, Part 2

By Michael Carter, Deep Green Resistance Southwest Coalition

Don’t miss How to Stop Off Road Vehicles, Part 1

Law enforcement has been so ineffective in preventing illegal ORV use that citizens are usually left to face the problem on their own. Stopping ORVs isn’t easy, but short of an end to gasoline—which we can’t wait for—impacts will continue to worsen if there’s no intervention. In remote areas like the Mojave Desert and Colorado Plateau, where would-be activists are scattered and overwhelmed and the police are essentially powerless and blasé, all strategies for stopping ORVs involve active and sustained effort. Here are a few:

Pressure law enforcement to do their jobs. Carry a camera with you always, and photograph illegal activity, if at all possible getting clear images of license plates. Document the time, place, and circumstances. Bring it to the attention of both the local and federal police, if on federal land. Be polite but persistent.

Physically close illegal trails. This can be surprisingly effective. Adopt an area and close off illegal trails with rocks, logs, whatever is handy and doesn’t further disturb the land. ORVers will keep trying to use the trail, but continued discouragement might eventually work.

Physically close legal trails. Similar to the last category, people may choose to carry out underground actions that close legal routes.[1] There must be a strict firewall between aboveground and underground activists: people or groups choosing to use underground tactics should not engage in aboveground actions, and vice versa.[2]

Close and reclaim established, authorized routes through administrative and legal channels. It’s the open roads that draw ORVs deeper into land they can then illegally violate, so every closed road is particularly helpful. This, too, takes a long and sustained effort. One helpful organization is Wildlands CPR (Now Wild Earth Guardians),[3] but don’t expect any non-profit group to have the resources to do the job for you. If you love the land you live in, be prepared to fight for it—a simple solution of hard, dedicated effort. Organize with those who agree with you, and fight.

Coyote Canyon Revisited

Private landowners neighboring Coyote Canyon in southeast Utah fought the originally illegal ORV use of the canyon, and tried to stop the BLM from sanctioning it. They pleaded with the public via every venue they could think of to write letters to the BLM opposing the move, yet ORV interests grossly outnumbered the effort. Fewer than ten opponents to the trail even bothered writing letters, and when the decision to open the canyon to ORVs was made the BLM didn’t even bother notifying the respondents, a violation of the National Environmental Policy Act.

Otherwise, however, the agency had prepared its documents thoroughly and neighbors were advised that a legal challenge probably wouldn’t have been effective. Although the BLM offered a number of concessions—the trail is only open Friday and Saturday to registered users, from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., among other restrictions—the agency legitimized crime, rewarding criminals with the sacrifice of another dwindling scrap of feral public land.

The Coyote Canyon example highlights several reasons why so few are willing to protect the land, and why they’re losing so badly. One is fear of reprisals from enemies (such as intentional trespass and vandalism of property, already an issue for neighbors of Coyote Canyon). Another is a reasonable assumption that their efforts will be ineffective—though of course making no effort will certainly be ineffective. Yet people tend to accept whatever situation they’re given. It’s uncommon to question an established arrangement, whatever it may be, and if one continues to question it life gets more uncomfortable. A resister will always face ridicule, accusations of poor mental, emotional and social adjustment, eventual ostracizing and occasionally murder. Yet social changes demand challenges to established practice.

When the BLM announced their decision to open Coyote Canyon to oil spills, noise, litter, piles of shit and soiled rags of toilet paper, almost everyone who was asked to help offered only a passing moment of sympathy. Not “what can I do,” not “what are our options,” but “that’s too bad.” It’s no wonder fights like this are frequently lost, when reactions are so feeble.

Industry and recreation groups, by contrast, are well organized and ready to rush to their own common cause. The right wing tends to be more accepting of orders; the boss says jump, they ask how high. They have something tangible they’re working for, a thing they like doing, a righteous maintenance of their privilege—such as driving anywhere they want. They stand to gain something where resistance stands only to prevent something—at least in situations like Coyote Canyon, where no comparable force opposes them.

Fighting Back

Resistance is tough. It means making one’s self unpopular, a hard thing to do among those who’ve been taught their whole lives that popularity is everything. Organizing can provide the possibility of overcoming our fear of reprisal, of ridicule, and of failure; it’s the only chance at effectively confronting injustices.   Those who wish to prevent agency actions like the Coyote Canyon trail, or to promote re-localization of food production—any defensive or restorative action—can become an effective force if they work together, consistently and reliably supporting one another. Many progressives have been bled off by dogmas of non-confrontation, by intoxicating feel-good-ness, and by the idea that individualism is of primary importance. They’ve become lazy, fatalistic, and cynical; committed, organized struggle seems to be the sorry lot of desperately poor people in faraway places.

The examples that we have of committed resistance movements often are of desperately poor people, immediately threatened by the activities of rich and powerful enemies. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta is one good example, and so are the more than 130 First Nations governments in western Canada that have gathered against the tar-sands Enbridge Northern Gateway Project and the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker projects.[4] We who are in a position to protect the land mostly lack the ability to respond, to turn our empathy for places like Coyote Canyon into action.

The situation at the frontiers of wild land is desperate, too. Wealth and privilege let us pretend it isn’t, because we get food from supermarket shelves and water from a tap. We see little or no connection between the health of the land and our own well-being. Public land use is an issue that can be influenced relatively easily—unlike, say, racism—because land managers so routinely ignore or violate laws and effective tactics usually have to do with citizen enforcement. But environmentalists continue to lose, partly because exploiters have miscast conflict as user-group obstruction—framing the terms of the debate to ridicule love of the wild world, separating its fate from human fate. By allowing this, would-be activists surrender the land and leave the future to sadists and imbeciles.

The destruction of the planet, however easy it is to ignore, will catch up with us all. The civilized economies that steal from the poor to give to the rich will eventually end. They need to consume limited resources to exist and those resources—fossil fuels, topsoil—will not last forever. When this happens, we will again depend upon the land to sustain us. If that land is stripped of its capacity to sustain life by industry, agriculture, and recreation, then there will be nowhere else to go, and nothing to do but wage war and starve.

Abuse of the land is now normalized by faith in nonexistent frontiers (of renewable energy and electric cars, for example) and by misguided tolerance. Naming abuse—the destruction of the land in the name of fun or individualistic pursuits and the destruction of our selves by abusive people and systems—is often portrayed as abusive in itself. This is outrageous and infuriating, but should be expected.

Though it is far less damaging than industry and agriculture, the evidence for ORV destruction is well documented and easy to come by. It’s not even really contested by ORVers themselves. Those of us determined to stop this behavior face the same problem law enforcement does: the damage is so widespread and difficult to regulate that there’s little anyone can do. But there’s also a serious lack of activists with effective tactics and a coherent strategy to follow through on. This doesn’t mean, though, that we should back down.

 

Identifying with the Real World

Once on Cedar Mesa, in Southeast Utah, I watched an ORV intentionally veer to crush a dozing snake. The reptile churned and writhed in the machine’s track, dead or near dead as its nerves popped and struggled and ran down. I went to it, to witness its pointless death. A thick and handsome bull snake, it spent its last moments bleeding out in the dust. Why? Why do this? What drives this sick, stupid behavior? Why does our culture hate every living thing?

I lifted the snake into the sage and blackbrush so it could at least die in its home. “If they can’t evolve to get out of the way,” someone once told me about road killed animals, “then that’s their problem.” Of course, not evolving to changing conditions is what causes extinction. There’s little doubt that our culture will not voluntarily evolve to halt the worsening conditions that industry and recreation are creating on the planet. So how does anyone fight activity like this? How do we stop deforestation, global warming, ocean acidification? And given those immense problems, is ORV land abuse something to focus limited energy and resources on?

In addition to the suggestions made in these articles, activists can develop tactics and strategies and their way forward will eventually become clear. With hard work and determination a chance of winning would almost certainly emerge. But in a world of Keystone XL pipelines and epidemic levels of fracking, is the effort worth it? If you caretake a few acres of land, blocking travel and pulling weeds, how much does it matter if you stop, or get distracted, or die? If those acres are again immediately vulnerable, is your effort a waste?

Few things anger me more that seeing wanton destruction for fun. I wonder, though, if this is an unhelpful distraction. It’s easy to get angry at something so obviously disrespecting of the land. In terms of permanent impacts, though, industry is much worse, and the scale of destruction is enormous. Of course what runs it is oil. Always this—the temporary, illusory power locked in a liquid hydrocarbon, driving ORVs, factory fishing trawlers, factory farms, and industrial agriculture. It’s warming the atmosphere and leading us to a horribly impoverished future, where most of us will be unable to afford the lifestyle we’ve been subjected and addicted to, let alone find enough to eat.

Remove the oil and the engines stop, and a besieged biosphere can begin to heal. This is part of the strategy that Deep Green Resistance has proposed.[5] But in the meanwhile…ORVs, just one part of the picture, continue to cut apart what little wild life remains, the last seed bank of evolution as we’ll ever know it. The momentum of established civilized practice is now enormous—seemingly unstoppable—and its terminal is in global destruction, the eradication of all complex life. Challenge to this system is so psychologically and practically difficult that most of us ignore it.

Fighting for the real, wild world can begin with the understanding that humans are not everything, and that the fate of the world is ultimately our fate. It is much different to fight for your own beloved family than for a rocky canyon you’ll never visit. We progressives like to talk about how hatred of “other” races cannot be tolerated (not that much is ever done about that). But we hardly ever extend this principle to the non-human world—constant victim of our culture’s violence—because we’ve been conditioned to believe that humans are all that matter. The loons, the snakes, the too-slow creatures smeared across the roads and ground under rubber tires into the dirt, they and the people yet to come who won’t be able to live as we have because the oil is gone—none of them will care about our abstract, self-indulgent moral wrestling. That is the wall that human supremacy has built around us; it must be torn down.

Imagine again that an occupying culture, whose every act is force and theft, was destroying the means of your survival. Imagine them extracting fuel to use the world as a playground. Of course, it is not enough to stop them from driving their toys in every possible place. To survive in the long term we must also stop the extraction, the root of the problem, and eliminate the fuel for destruction. We must reclaim our adult responsibilities and stand up to defend the land where we live, knowing that until oil extraction and consumption is ended, there will always be a new group of occupiers finding new ways to destroy the land.

Endnotes

[1] Foreman, Dave. Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching. Tucson: Ned Ludd Books, 1987, 89-109.

[2] Security Culture: A Handbook for Activists (PDF)

[3] “Resources,” Wild Earth Guardians, accessed July 13, 2014, http://www.wildlandscpr.org

[4] Carrie Saxifrage, “How the Enbridge Pipeline Issue Unified Northern BC,” The Vancouver Observer, February 13, 2012, http://www.vancouverobserver.com/politics/2012/02/13/nation-building-how-enbridge-pipeline-issue-unified-northern-bc

“Interior First Nations Pipeline Ban,” Dogwood Initiative, You Tube, December 2, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4G5KtqPSW8Q

Carrie Saxifrage, “No Oil Pipeline Here: Enbridge Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel in Smithers finds 100% opposition,” The Vancouver Observer, January 17, 2012, http://www.vancouverobserver.com/sustainability/2012/01/17/enbridge-northern-gateway-joint-review-panel-smithers-finds-100-opposition

[5] “Decisive Ecological Warfare,” Deep Green Resistance, accessed August 28, 2014, http://deepgreenresistance.org/en/deep-green-resistance-strategy/decisive-ecological-warfare