Recently, environmental organizations have had to slow down much of their efforts to promote the safety of staff and an awareness of other pressing societal issues. Some believe that this is even resulting in opportunities for the government to sneak in and break apart environmental regulations, without the defense systems of environmental organizations.
The New York Times recently reported the Trump administration is in the process of rolling back on 34 environmental provisions, such as the National Environmental Policy Act and multiple Obama-era rules.
“With COVID-19 and also the protests, people aren’t necessarily as focused on environmental issues that are happening right now,” explained Harold Thomas, the associate director of the Watershed Management Group in Tucson. “So, it’s an easy time for government to roll back a lot of legislation.”
Still, environmental initiatives held by a diverse range of organizations in southern Arizona are proving resilience during these difficult times. Five companies, Patagonia Area Resource Alliance, Sky Island Alliance, the Sonoran Institute, Zero-Mass Water and Local First AZ are showing that environmentalists can feel some optimism despite the whirlwinds hitting American society and the environment.
Patagonia Area Resource Alliance
In Patagonia, the environmental watchdog organization Patagonia Area Resource Alliance has a history of keeping an eye on industrial mining in the area. For years, PARA has taken steps to hold industrial mining companies to the highest environmental standards, and this has not halted in times of the pandemic.
During the pandemic, PARA staff are continuing to monitor mining activities in a variety of ways, according to Anna Sofia, the communications and outreach coordinator. Since 2012, PARA has been tracking animals in the Patagonia Mountains with cameras to see what effects industrial mining is having on the wildlife and ecosystems. Sofia and another staff member have been continuously going out into the mountains to check these cameras.
Carolyn Shafer, PARA’s mission coordinator, explained the importance of wildlife protection and monitoring in the area. She said that poor industrial mining practices could be very harmful to the wildlife and that it is a human responsibility to ensure protection.
“An important thing that we need to do as humans is to assure the longevity of all species,” said Shafer. “The Patagonia Mountains are part of a region that has been identified by scientists as one of the top areas in the world, most in need of protection and study for species survival.”
Similar to PARA’s own wildlife tracking project in…