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Advocacy to Protect Borderlands Areas Lagging

Construction of a border wall would have grave social and environmental consequences, but retailers with clout are not stepping up as they have when other places have been threatened.
November 5, 2019, 7am PST | Camille Fink
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Lyndi & Jason

Jessica Kutz writes about the difference in support for threatened public lands by the recreation industry. When the Trump administration announced plans to scale back the borders of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, companies like Patagonia sprang into action. But areas along the U.S.-Mexico border are also facing major threats from border wall construction, and activists say they are not receiving the same support.

"As a result, in places like Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument [in Arizona], saguaros are being ripped from the ground, and tribal nations will lose access to land sacred to them. Once it is built, the wall will sever wildlife habitat between the U.S. and Mexico. Conservationists and activists at the border are tirelessly documenting every development. But lately, they’ve begun asking themselves, 'Where is everyone else?'" says Kutz.

The larger story, notes Kutz, is about the lack of diversity in the outdoor recreation industry, both within companies and among consumers, and the resulting equity issues. When companies are motivated to represent the needs of their customers, the interests of people of color and poor people are not fully acknowledged. "Border residents who have deep ties to the landscape and its wildlife — but lack the money to buy products from companies like Patagonia, for example — are losing out on that sort of advocacy currency," adds Kutz.

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Published on Sunday, November 24, 2019 in High Country News
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