Rio Grande

Great River
roiling through history

timescales –
geologic
ecologic
human

I try to imagine
Rio Grande,
Rio Bravo del Norte,
back 10 million years

9.99 million without people
give or take

my view is
narrow
as human memory, yet
broad
as a desert river

this place is so complicated
so many cultures colliding
striving for existence
like strata in an Abiquiu cliff wall
black, yellow, red, white, green

in the culture collision
everyone needs
water
and people are so good
at finding water
that we’ve made the river dry
threaten the landscape –
we’ve nearly stolen the blood
from the red earth

river engineering
oil & gas
big agriculture
capitalism
& a frenzy of growth
endangers
the water
the land

the struggle for life
for a living river
for environmental justice
has never been stronger
has never been more
vital

and so we fight

__

After some time without an entry, I want to update you all on developments in my life.

The Rio Grande is one of the most endangered rivers in the United States. It runs nearly 2,000 miles from southern Colorado through the heart of New Mexico and becomes the US-Mexico border from El Paso, Texas to the Gulf. Home to diverse peoples and ecologies, the Rio Grande is integral to the regional environment. As with many desert rivers, it is over-appropriated and over-engineered. Water conservation and changes in management are essential if we want a prosperous future here.

In 2015-16, I lived in and studied the communities around the Rio Chama, a major tributary of the Rio Grande. That experience opened my eyes to the challenges of managing water in the arid Southwest. Here, water’s scarcity adds amplitude to its cultural and communal importance and makes its management contentious and complex.

Six weeks ago I accepted a job as a campaigner for the Rio Grande with WildEarth Guardians and the Wild Rivers Program. Guardians is an environmental nonprofit based in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico that works for environmental justice throughout the American West.

The guardians are a cohort of advocates, attorneys, and environmentalists who protect wildlife, wildlands, and wild rivers – they also fight to end fossil fuel use and promote a clean energy future. Guardians’ effective strategies led to many successes over the past 30 years including the listing of over 800 species under the Endangered Species Act and critical milestones in getting instream flows for the Rio Grande.

The Wild Rivers Program is directed by Jen Pelz, an experienced water attorney and advocate. Under her leadership, the program aims to protect endangered rivers and ensure that these rivers can continue to act as the ecological foundation that they are in an era of humanity’s excesses. My focus will be on the Rio Grande as we work to promote water conservation and to modernize the policies that govern the river so that the Great River will remain so.

With eagerness for the hard work ahead, I begin the job tomorrow. Cheers to a new year and new beginnings. I will write again soon with more details, but now you know where to find me.

Please visit the Guardians website at wildearthguardians.org, follow on Twitter @wildearthguard and feel free to email me at ghecht@wildearthguardians.org

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