Category Archives: Environment

Border Walls versus Environmental Justice

Contributed by No Border Wall 4 February 2011

In 1994 President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898 to address the issue of Environmental Justice. It instructs federal agencies to identify and address actions that might have “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects… on minority populations and low-income populations.” EO 12898 remains in effect today, but in building border walls the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has chosen to ignore it.

Since the passage of the Secure Fence Act around 650 miles of border wall have been built, slicing though towns, farms, and natural areas. Southern border states have rates of poverty that are significantly higher than the national average. In 2009 Arizona had the second highest poverty rate in the nation, New Mexico had the third highest, and Texas came in seventh. Within these states communities along the border tend to be the poorest. The 2007 list of 10 counties with the lowest median incomes in the nation included the Texas border counties of El Paso, Hidalgo, and Cameron, all three of which now have border walls.

Rather than act to minimize the border wall’s impacts on these communities, DHS used the Real ID Act to waive 36 federal laws. The Safe Drinking Water Act, Farmland Protection Policy Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and other laws that protect the rest of the nation no longer protect border communities. Equal protection under the law does not apply to those who live along the border.

This has led to a host of negative impacts on border communities. The economic impacts of land condemnation and damage to family farms have hit economically disadvantaged communities. Walls have cause severe flooding in Lukeville, Arizona, and across the border in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, where two people drowned. In Texas wetlands have been destroyed, and construction has caused serious erosion, further degrading the Rio Grande, which is the source of drinking and irrigation water for border residents.

In documents released before wall construction began, DHS stated that each of the Texas communities living in the path of the wall, “meets these two criteria [high percentages of minority and low-income residents] as a potential environmental justice population.” DHS went on to claim, however, that “the Secretary’s waiver means that CBP no longer has any specific obligation under Executive Order (EO) 12898.” While the first statement is backed by census data, the claim that DHS is not bound by the executive order is false, because the executive order was not listed among the 36 laws that DHS waived. But the assertion has meant that little effort has gone into lessening the impacts of border walls on border communities, or including them in decision-making.

South Texas Communities

To build border walls the federal government filed condemnation lawsuits against more than 400 Texas landowners, in communities that are 85 – 90% Hispanic and have rates of poverty that are more than twice the state average.

In Hidalgo and Cameron counties, where border walls were built along existing levees, homes, businesses, farms, and privately-owned nature preserves have been cut in two, or even walled off entirely, trapped between the border wall and the Rio Grande.

DHS has only to paid for the exact footprint of the border wall (typically, a 60-foot wide strip) as it passes through a parcel of land. The agency has completely discounted the hardships that the border wall will bring to landowners, such as the devaluation of contiguous property, access to farm land and homes, and impacts on livelihood.

In south Texas there are 21 separate border walls, totaling 70 linear miles, with wide gaps between sections. Border residents noticed that walls tended to be built through the lands of low-income families, but stopped abruptly at the property line of landowners such as the Hunt family, who, coincidentally, donated millions for the construction of the Bush Presidential Library.

Researchers from the University of Texas who examined this determined, “Our comparison of the areas planned to be fenced along the border with those areas where ‘gaps’ in the fence are planned suggests disproportionate impact on individuals with lower income and education, Hispanic ethnicity and non-U.S. citizenship status.”

Tohono O’odham Nation

The Tohono O’odham nation in Southern Arizona is split by 75 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, with 1,500 out of 20,000 tribal members living south of the line. As in many Native American nations poverty is widespread. According to the 2000 census the average income on the reservation was $8,137, compared to a national average of $26,940. Life expectancy was eight years less than the national average.

Speaking before a U.S. House of Representatives hearing on the border wall, O’odham Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said, “We are older than the international boundary with Mexico and had no role in creating the border. But our land is now cut in half, with O’odham communities, sacred sites, salt pilgrimage routes, and families divided.”

Chairman Norris went on to state that, with the waiving of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, “… fragments of human remains were observed in the tire tracks of heavy construction equipment. Barriers and the border road now cross the site.”

“Imagine a bulldozer parking in your family graveyard, turning up bones. This is our reality.”

Chairman Norris concluded, “We know from our own experience living on the border that security can be improved while respecting the rights of tribes and border communities, while fulfilling our duty to the environment and to our ancestors, and without granting any person the power to ignore the law.”

Posted By Blogger to No Border Wall at 2/03/2011 06:41:00 PM

See also

No Border Wall

Border Wall in the News


Immigrant rights and environmental organizations come together on issues of immigration

Sierra Club unites with Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

November 2, 2010

Contact: Bill Chandler, MIRA, (601) 968-5183

Sean Sullivan, Sierra Club Borderlands Team, (520) 250-9040

JACKSON, MS – At this year’s 5th annual Unity Conference, sponsored by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance (MIRA) and Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Sierra Club will add environmental issues to the lineup. The conference, being held in on November 4-5, 2010 at the Cabot Lodge Millsaps in Jackson, MS, is the largest gathering in the state that focuses on immigrant and worker rights and Black/Brown Unity. For the 5th year, MIRA and SCLC come together to analyze our common struggles and plan for the future.

“While the Sierra Club is neutral on immigration, we have never been neutral on environmental destruction.” says Sean Sullivan, Co-Chair of the Sierra Club Borderlands Team and Jackson resident. The Sierra Club will be hosting a photo exhibit which depicts how the land, wildlife, and people of the borderlands are being negatively impacted by newly constructed border walls. Entrance to the exhibit is free of charge and be open for viewing 5:30pm – 8:30pm Nov 2 – Nov 4 and from 9:00am – 9:00pm on Nov 5 during the Unity Conference.

Bill Chandler, Executive Director of MIRA is pleased with the Sierra Club’s participation. “The Unity Conference welcomes the efforts of the Sierra Club to shed light on the reckless and destructive border polices wreaking havoc on the US-Mexico border. Walls have not stopped people from coming here to work, the walls forced people to shift where they cross to remote areas resulting the deaths of thousands of people in the desert.”, says Chandler.

Since 1995, the number of border-crossing deaths increased and by 2005 had more than doubled. More than 5,000 migrants have died from dehydration and exposure. It is estimated that thousands of undiscovered bodies lie undiscovered along the border.

“To address this complicated issue, we need to look at the root causes of migration. Tens of thousands of people have been displaced as a result of so-called free trade agreements like NAFTA. Small farmers in central Mexico cannot compete with government subsidized corn flowing south from big agri-business. These farmers are then forced to the Mexican border, to work in unsafe and environmentally hazardous factories. These types of agreements are not sustainable and must be re-examined.”, says Sullivan.

Chandler added, “it is refreshing to see a national environmental organization like the Sierra Club take this kind of stand on immigration issues. Too often nativist groups have tried to hide their xenophobic views behind environmental values.”

This year, we celebrate MIRA’s 10 years of advocacy, and look ahead to unique challenges and opportunities in the upcoming year, including the 2011 legislative cycle, redistricting, and the national immigration reform debate. The conference serves as the meeting ground for over 150 community organization leaders, activists, and volunteers; elected and appointed officials; members of the corporate, philanthropic, and academic communities; senior citizens; college students; and youth. Speakers will include: Maria Jimenez from Texas, Isabel Garcia, Arizona immigrant rights leader, and Bill Fletcher, Jr., a leading civil rights and labor leader in the AFL-CIO from Washington, D.C.

BORDER FENCE: Smuggler’s Gulch project a ‘disaster’ for estuary, critics say

Originally published 15 January 2009

by April Reese, E&E Western reporter


This article is part of an occasional series on the environmental impacts of the new border fence being constructed along the U.S.-Mexico border.

IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. — Newly filled with 1.3 million cubic yards of hard-packed dirt, Smuggler’s Gulch, long a conduit for illegal immigration and drug trafficking, may need a new name.

Once a haven for traders in contraband of all kinds — first, Prohibition-era bootleggers; later, drug smugglers and immigrant-ferrying “coyotes” — the gulch now echoes with the sounds of earth-moving bulldozers, dump trucks and Border Patrol jeeps.

Over the next few months, contractors will finish building a 15-foot-high steel mesh fence along the spine of the new berm and another, smaller earthen bridge across Goat Canyon, just to the west. Dirt roads will run along either side, and in most places, the primary barrier will be reinforced with a 10-foot-high chain-link fence on the north side. The new fencing joins a decades-old corrugated metal vehicle barrier a few hundred yards to the south; together, the three fences will create a three-tiered barrier between the United States and Mexico.

From below, the massive berm now bridging the mesas on either side of the 300-foot-deep gulch is an intimidating sight: massive, impenetrable.

That is exactly what Customs and Border Protection and its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, were aiming for.

“That old fence was never meant to keep people out,” said CBP’s Jerry Conlin, looking down on the rusty vehicle barrier from the edge of the new berm, where the next section of new fence will soon be erected. “It was never meant to provide the sort of security that our country needs now.”

Until now, Border Patrol agents have had to pursue suspected illegal border crossers down treacherous switchback dirt roads that are cut into the sides of the canyons. Now, with the berms bridging two canyons, agents will be able to drive straight across, providing much quicker response times and a much safer route, Conlin said.

But while the berm — as high as some of the West’s concrete dams — and the fence it will support may stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers, it is expected to increase the flow of sediment into the Tijuana River estuary, habitat for several threatened and endangered species and the target of a multi-decade restoration effort. Like the other drainages in the border highlands, as the stretch of rugged terrain along the last few miles of the U.S. border with Mexico is called, Smuggler’s Gulch and Goat Canyon funnel streams from Mexico northward into the United States, into the river and its estuary.

Part of a larger, $127 million plan to construct 14 miles of new barrier spanning the westernmost part of the San Diego sector, the Smuggler’s Gulch project was delayed by legal challenges and regulatory hurdles. In the end, CBP was able to undertake the project without adhering to any state or federal environmental laws due to waiver provisions in both a 1996 law pertaining just to the Smuggler’s Gulch area and the REAL ID Act of 2005, which applied to other areas, as well (Land Letter, Sept. 22, 2005).

‘A wall of shame’

Environmental groups, state regulatory agencies and managers of the 2,800-acre Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve have warned DHS and CBP that the project would cause extensive erosion and send tons of dirt downstream, choking the estuary and undermining decades of work restoring ecologically important wetlands. The estuary encompasses a national wildlife refuge and state parklands and is home to a number of endangered bird species, including the light-footed clapper rail, the California least tern, the least Bell’s vireo and the American peregrine falcon.

“Frankly, from our perspective, this project was just a disaster,” said Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, which regulates development in the coastal zone. “Not only is it a wall of shame, but to override the protections after the state spent tens of millions of dollars to restore the estuary and to just come in and blast the place … it’s just shameful.”

The Tijuana Estuary Tidal Restoration Program, which calls for restoring 520 acres of inter-tidal wetlands, is one of the largest wetland restoration projects in the country.

Even though the project is proceeding under the waiver, the California Division of Water Quality is pressing CBP to keep environmental damage in check. In a letter to CBP and the Army Corps of Engineers written after a tour of the area in the fall, the agency warned that poor road design and planning would harm the estuary.

“This project will have significant adverse impacts, especially permanent loss of wetlands and riparian habitats,” wrote Darrin Polhemus, the division’s deputy director.

“Most road segments observed exhibited poor grading practices and will likely erode if normal rainfall occurs,” Polhemus added. “This will create environmental costs in the form of lost hydrologic function in the watershed and sediment deliveries to the estuary below. It will also create costs in the form of expensive remedial maintenance and will create hazards for the agents using those roads.”

CBP is crafting a response to the letter. The agency has said it is building retaining walls, culverts and other erosion-control infrastructure to help protect the estuary. Some of those measures were on display during a recent tour of the project site, although some areas appeared to lack erosion controls.

On a warm afternoon this week, Jim Peugh, conservation chairman of the San Diego chapter of the Audubon Society, stood a few feet from a new section of the fence just east of Smuggler’s Gulch and pointed to a rivulet crossing a section of new road. Bigger, more damaging gullies will cut through the project area as San Diego County’s winter rains continue, he said.

Jason Price, project leader for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineering and Construction Support Office, which is helping to coordinate construction of the fence, said the company contracted to do the work is following a stormwater pollution prevention plan and is to repair any areas damaged by heavy rains. After the project is completed, responsibility for erosion control will be handed over to CBP when it assumes operation and maintenance duties, he added.

In his letter, Polhemus of the California Division of Water Quality told CBP and the corps that mitigation and long-term monitoring will be needed to help offset the damage to the estuary.

Along the slopes rising from the roadcuts in the mesas on either side of the gulch, fiber rolls have been put in place to help reduce erosion, and in some areas, green seedlings can be seen sprouting in the dirt between the erosion barriers. Those plants — the native rayless gumplant, according to Price — replace the laurel sumac and black sage that once grew on the site.

“In the Smuggler’s area, it’s been decided not to have the high vegetation that would obstruct our visibility,” Conlin explained.

Need for project questioned

Peugh and other critics have called for a project with a smaller disturbance footprint that would rely more on increased patrols and more underground sensors and remote cameras.

“They didn’t need to have a triple fence, they needed to have a real fence,” Peugh said. “There were areas where the existing fence has fallen down because of erosion. And people would use pieces of fallen fence to get over the standing fence.”

But Conlin said CBP had already gone as far as it could with manpower and technology under Operation Gatekeeper in the 1990s. What was missing was a more efficient route for both the fence and the patrol roads, he said.

“The terrain just doesn’t allow for the type of manpower that would be needed, to cover areas with difficult terrain, with high brush, with low to zero visibility,” Conlin said, slowly driving a white government-issue Suburban toward the saddle of the Smuggler’s Gulch berm as construction workers in orange safety vests worked on a new section of steel fence in the distance. “This whole project is about the right combination of personnel, technology and infrastructure.”

When the project is done, Border Patrol agents will have a more or less straight throughway paralleling the fence from the San Ysidro Point of Entry east of Smuggler’s Gulch to the shoreline 5 miles away.

“Raising Smuggler’s Gulch will allow us to respond to any threats to the area — and rescues in the area — much better than before,” Conlin said.

In the 1980s, the area of the border south of Imperial Beach, including Smuggler’s Gulch, was one of the busiest — and most dangerous — sections along the border. In the early 1990s, about half a million people crossed into the United States from Mexico illegally in the San Diego sector, more than anywhere else on the entire border.

After a crackdown by the Border Patrol during the mid-1990s under President Bill Clinton’s “Operation Gatekeeper” initiative, which doubled the number of Border Patrol agents and provided more cameras and sensors, apprehensions fell by more than three-quarters, dropping from 480,000 in fiscal 1996 to 100,000 in fiscal 2002.

Since then, apprehensions have risen slightly, to about 152,000 in fiscal 2007 and about 162,000 last year. “It’s been going up little by little since 2002,” Conlin said.

A project years in the making

The mandate to construct 14 miles of new fencing in the San Diego sector dates back to 1996, predating the Secure Fence Act by a decade. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, authored in part by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) of San Diego, called for the U.S. attorney general to “provide for the construction along the 14 miles of the international land border of the United States, starting at the Pacific Ocean and extending eastward, of second and third fences, in addition to the existing reinforced fence, and for roads between the fences.”

The law’s authorization to waive the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act to allow for “expeditious construction” set the stage for the waiver authority granted to the DHS secretary in the REAL ID Act in 2005, which expanded the authority to apply to all state and federal laws. Under the REAL ID Act, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff waived a host of laws to complete various portions of the fence, including the Coastal Zone Management Act, the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, the Clean Air Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Without the waivers, it seems unlikely that the Smuggler’s Gulch project would have been constructed in its current design. In 2004, environmental groups sued to stop the project, and the same year, the California Coastal Commission concluded that Customs and Border Protection had not demonstrated that the project was consistent with the California Coastal Management Program, a state program approved under the federal Coastal Zone Management Act. It warned that the new fence project would harm the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research and Reserve, further imperil state and federally listed species and compromise lands in the border highlands set aside for protection under San Diego’s Multiple Species Conservation Program.

Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission, said there is little the state can do to get CBP to repair the damage. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D), nominated to be the new Department of Homeland Security chief under President-elect Barack Obama, has criticized the border fence, offering hope to some critics that the new administration will attempt to repair some of the environmental damage from the fence, or even reshape parts of it. But Douglas is doubtful.

“I think the damage is done,” Douglas said. “I don’t know how you go back and undo it.”

The ongoing construction project at Smuggler’s Gulch, expected to be finished in May, is one of a handful of border fence projects that have extended beyond Chertoff’s deadline of Dec. 31. While Chertoff said in August that the agency was on track to complete its goal of 370 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers by the end of the year, only 563 total miles have been built, according to Lloyd Easterling, a spokesman for CBP in Washington. But Easterling, who attributes the delays to the increased price of fuels and steel, said he expects the administration will hit the 670-mile mark before Bush leaves office next week.

“We’re still committed to the 670-mile goal,” Easterling said, adding that contracts have been secured for all the remaining projects.

April Reese is based in Santa Fe, N.M.

About E&E Publishing: Environment & Energy Publishing (E&E) is the leading source for comprehensive, daily coverage of environmental and energy policy and markets. E&E’s four daily on-line publications are considered “must-reads” by people who track and influence energy, environmental and climate policy.

>U.S., Mexico and Canada Agreement at WILD9

>See WILD9 Link for pdf in English

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING On Cooperation for Wilderness Conservation
between the


and the

and the

The National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior of the United States of America, the U.S. Forest Service and the Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets of the U.S. Department of Agriculture of the United States of America, the Secretariat of the Environment and Natural Resources through the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas of the United Mexican States, and the Parks Canada Agency of the Government of Canada; hereinafter referred to as the Participants:

RECOGNIZING the advanced cooperation that exists between the Participants in the management, planning, preservation and research for the conservation of wilderness areas of the United States, Mexico and Canada;

WHEREAS conservation is generally defined by the Participants as the formulation and implementation of strategies and practices related to the research, monitoring, protection, and restoration of natural resources, ecosystems and their components, while facilitating opportunities for public outreach, education, visitor experience and enjoyment.

RECOGNIZING that while the concept of wilderness varies among the Participants, it is generally considered to be land, marine and coastal areas that exist in a natural state or are capable of being returned to a natural state, are treasured for their intrinsic value, and offer opportunities to experience natural heritage places through activities that require few, if any, rudimentary facilities or services.

WHEREAS Canada, the United States and Mexico share a continent with vast, interconnected wilderness resources – including forests, mountain ranges, wildlife species, freshwater systems, and oceans and marine life – and whereas this shared resource is best protected through communication, consultation and cooperation;

RECOGNIZING that developing a shared vision of the North American continent’s terrestrial and marine wilderness resources will enhance conservation efforts in each country, as well as cooperation between Participants;

WHEREAS natural and cultural heritage properties and sites on the national territory of each Participant are of significance nationally and, in many cases, internationally through inclusion on the United Nation’s World Heritage List;

WHEREAS wilderness areas in all three countries, Mexico, the United States and Canada, represent irreplaceable elements of the heritage and identity of the people of all three nations;

WHEREAS wilderness areas may assist in the adaptation of flora, fauna and human populations to climate change and other factors that have effects on habitat;

NOTING the Participants’ mutual interest in continuing and strengthening the conservation and management of national parks and wilderness for the purpose of conserving shared ecosystems, in particular in those areas close to or contiguous with national borders;

RECOGNIZING the importance and relevance of ecological and commemorative integrity in the establishment, management and operations of wilderness areas for the purpose of preserving and conserving these areas for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations;

RECOGNIZING the importance of creating a sense of “connection to place” to ensure the continued relevance of wilderness to residents of North America and to enhance public engagement in the protection and conservation of wilderness;

Have reached the following understanding:

This Memorandum has as its objective the creation of a voluntary framework for cooperation and coordination among the Participants concerning the commemoration, conservation and preservation of wilderness areas. In pursuing such cooperation and coordination, the Participants are fully aware that the modalities available to further the concept of wilderness are different for each Participant, according to their corresponding Laws and authority.

1. (a) The Participants intend to establish an Intergovernmental Committee, to be initially comprised of the Directors of the National Park Service, U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management, the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, the Director of the Office of Ecosystem Services and Markets, the National Commissioner of the National Commission for Natural Protected Areas, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Parks Canada Agency or their designated representative, to review, discuss and disseminate information about progress on projects, possible areas for future cooperation, and other related issues.

(b) The Committee should meet periodically, in locations alternating among the three countries. The Committee should make every possible effort to meet in association with the Canada/Mexico/U.S. Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management in order to avoid replication and ensure integration into on-going initiatives. Other government agencies may be invited to participate in the future, as appropriate.

(c) The members of the Committee may designate appropriate representatives to coordinate and monitor the progress of cooperative activities developed to accomplish the objectives outlined in this Memorandum of Understanding.

(d) The Committee should ensure integration of wilderness activities with other on-going bilateral and trilateral initiatives and avoid duplication of other initiatives.

2. (a) The forms of cooperative activities under this Memorandum of Understanding may include but are not limited to exchanges of technical and professional information; participation in joint seminars, conferences, training courses, and workshops in areas of professional and technical interest; joint planning and research teams; and exchanges of specialists. The type of activities carried out under this voluntary cooperative framework is subject to the availability of funds and personnel of each Participant and subject to the laws and regulations of their respective countries.

(b) Topics of mutual interest and benefit for ongoing or future cooperative activities may include but are not limited to:

(i) Commitment to promoting and enhancing wilderness on land and in
marine and coastal areas;
(ii) Examination of issues in wilderness conservation and management, with a
special concern for the impacts of climate change, fire, and alien invasive species on wilderness areas and their inhabitant species;
(iii) Research, inventory, documentation, and monitoring of wilderness areas;
(iv) Valuing human livelihoods dependent on wilderness;
(v) Consideration of mechanisms of payment for ecosystem services related to
wilderness conservation;
(vi) Public information to increase community support for conservation of
(vii) Joint identification and conservation of transboundary resources as they
relate to wilderness areas;
(viii) Consideration of wilderness areas in the context of a broader landscape
approach to conservation management;
(ix) Establishment of sustained relationships between wilderness managers
across the continent for the purpose of mentoring, sharing research and technology, exploring common challenges and solutions, and potentially developing transcontinental goals and plans of action;
(x) Exploring potential to work with those biosphere reserves with core
wilderness areas to advance wilderness conservation;
(xi) Facilitating visitor experience as a means to enhance relevance of
wilderness and foster engagement in wilderness conservation; and
(xii) Exchange of information and best practices on innovative approaches to
governance of wilderness areas.

3. Each Participant should ensure that the information transmitted by one Participant to another Participant under this Memorandum of Understanding is accurate to its best knowledge and belief. The transmitting Participant should not warrant the suitability of the information transmitted for any particular use of or application by the receiving Participant.

4. (a) This Memorandum becomes operative upon its signature by the Participants and its terms apply until discontinued by the Participants.

(b) The Participants may modify this Memorandum of Understanding upon their written mutual consent.

(c) Each Participant may discontinue this Memorandum of Understanding at any time upon written notification through diplomatic channels to other Participants. The discontinuation of this Memorandum of Understanding should not affect the validity or duration of projects under this Memorandum of Understanding, which are initiated prior to such discontinuation, subject to availability of funds.

Signed in triplicate at WILD9, the 9th World Wilderness Congress, Mérida, United Mexican States, on this 7th day of November 2009, in the English, French and Spanish languages.








>Corporate Commitment to Wilderness: Memorandum of Understanding to Protect Wilderness

>Memorandum of Understanding between the WILD Foundation and Members of the Corporate Commitment to Wilderness At WILD9, the 9th World Wilderness Congress

See WILD9 link for PDF

November 2009

This MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (Memorandum), dated November 9, 2009, records the basis upon which the Parties to this Memorandum have agreed to collaborate..

The Parties to this Memorandum are:

The WILD Foundation (WILD) located at 717 Poplar Avenue, Boulder, Colorado USA 80304
The Corporate Members (Members) (See Below)

1. Background – Wilderness as a foundation for sustainability
In 1924, the U.S. Forest Service administratively protected the first wilderness in the United States by setting aside 574,000 acres of the Gila National Forest located in the State of New Mexico as the first designated wilderness in the United States. Forty years later, this idea became institutionalized as a form of land conservation with the passage of the U.S. Wilderness Act of 1964. Since that time other nations – Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Sri Lanka, the former Soviet Union, and South Africa – have passed wilderness legislation.

What constitutes wilderness has been the crucial question affecting all wilderness designation and management decisions. Aldo Leopold (1921) envisioned wilderness as “a continuous stretch of country preserved in its natural state, open to lawful hunting and fishing, devoid of roads, artificial trails, cottages, or other works of man”. Although wilderness means something different to everyone, four central themes have consistently emerged; experiential, the direct value of the wilderness experience; the value of wilderness as a scientific resource and environmental baseline; the symbolic and spiritual values of wilderness to nations and the world; and the value of wilderness as a commodity or place that generates direct and indirect benefits.
Now we recognize that the climate will change, posing new challenges to many ecosystems. Our need to devote more of the Earth’s land surface to conserving biodiversity and open spaces will play a key role in our ability to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We can do this through ensuring that protected areas continue to be established and well-managed.

We have evolved to a world where half of the global population lives in cities. This presents a tremendous need and opportunity to reunite fragmented rural landscapes, that were impacted by unsustainable land use practices, and begin the process of restoring and re-wilding them. The ecological services that healthy ecosystems provide worldwide are the foundation to a sustainable future, a healthy human society, and successful business on our planet.

2. Purpose Of Working Together:
There is a clear and well-documented business case for sustainable development in industry. Experts confirm that economies will fail to grow and prosper in the absence of fertile soil, freshwater, clean air, and a stable, predictable climate.
To pursue the imperative for sustainability, the private sector can consolidate capacities and take decisive, united actions that assure continued functioning of the critical ecosystem services and biodiversity required for sustainable life and economy on this planet. Furthermore, it is important that environmental organizations encourage and acknowledge the positive contributions of the private sector to conservation and the protection of wild nature and vital ecosystem services such as climate regulation (temperature moderation, carbon sequestration, etc), freshwater, clean air, fertile soil and others. The “Center for Corporate Commitment to Wilderness” is a direct response to both these needs, and participation in it offers corporations a unique opportunity to demonstrate and showcase their leadership in and commitment to land stewardship and the efficient use of natural resources.

3. Principles:
This Memorandum is not a contract and creates no binding obligations between the Parties. It rather documents the intentions of the Parties to collaborate on a sustainable and evolving program of activities for the protection of wilderness and biodiversity. As such, this Memorandum is only intended for use in recording mutual intent to draft agreements and to guide the programs and activities upon which the Parties wish to collaborate.. Such agreements will give members of this new private sector coalition the opportunity to participate in the “Center for Corporate Commitment to Wilderness”, a program of The WILD Foundation.

4. Goals and Objectives:
The Parties to this Commitment intend to develop long-term goals and objectives that would unite the Parties in the protection of wild nature and biodiversity, for generations to come. Some of the areas of common interest for developing such goals and objectives are as follows:

A. Protecting wilderness land and/or seas for the long-term.
B. Restoring wilderness conditions and wildlife to degraded areas.
C. Promoting the importance of wilderness values.
D. Advocating for wilderness recognition and legislation.
E. Providing outreach and education on the role of wilderness for ecosystem services.
F. Increasing awareness of the direct link between wilderness, biodiversity and a stable climate.
G. Facilitating science-based management practices for wilderness.
H. Training and developing leadership capabilities for young wilderness professionals.
I. Transferring wilderness protection and sustainability models globally.
J. Promoting public-private sector partnerships for wilderness.
K. Identifying economic opportunities for local people in or near wilderness areas.

5. Organization:
The Parties agree that the “Center for Corporate Commitment to Wilderness” will be a part of The WILD Foundation, and will be administered in accordance with the By Laws of the WILD Foundation and the 501 (c)(3) Internal Revenue Code of the US Government.

6. Phased Approach:
The Parties recognize that the goals and objectives contained within this Memorandum cannot all be accomplished quickly, or at once. They must rather be pursued in a step-by-step approach as the Parties consolidate capacity, confidence, mutual trust, and positive results.

7. Resourcing Structure:
The Parties recognize that participation in the wilderness goals and objectives identified in this Memorandum requires resources at varying levels and type. It is the intent of this Memorandum to develop a Member Resource Commitment Structure with different levels of involvement, to address individual Members ability and desire to participate the “Center for Corporate Commitment to Wilderness”.

8. Term:
The term of the Memorandum shall be in force for one (1) year, unless mutually agreed to by the Parties otherwise. The Term has been set to allow sufficient time for the Parties to draft and enter into a final long-term agreement regarding joint programs and activities for the Members of the “Center for Corporate Commitment to Wilderness”.

The WILD Foundation
Johnson Controls – LTH

US-Mexico Border Wall Slicing through Fragile Ecosystems

Amy Goodman interviews Isabel Garcia of Derechos Humanos, and Sean Sullivan of Sierra Club Borderlands Team, and Dan Millis of No More Deaths, on the Border Wall. “We take a look at the environmental impact of the 600 miles of barricades along the US-Mexico border. The wall slices across fragile ecosystems in public lands, parks and refuges, threatening rare species and disrupting wildlife migration. We speak with the chair of the Sierra Club Borderlands Team in Arizona.” [includes rush transcript]