Abandoned Mine Lands and Collective Cleanup Efforts

June 18, 2018

Jerry K. Jacka

On 5 August 2015, a contractor working for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally breached a plug of waste rock at the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado. Unbeknownst to the backhoe operator responsible for the breach, the plug was holding back three million gallons of acid mine drainage laced with numerous toxic metals such as zinc, cadmium, mercury, lead, and arsenic. Within hours, the yellow-tinged toxic waters from the Gold King Mine spread downstream from Cement Creek into the Animas River, eventually making their way into the San Juan River until being diluted by their entry into the Colorado River. En route, the waters heavily impacted the livelihoods of farmers, fly fishing guides, and rafting companies from Durango, Colorado, to the Navajo Nation in northern New Mexico.

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Bears Ears

In Defense of Public Lands

May 17, 2017

Jerry K. Jacka

bears ears |berz irz| (noun) def. (1) the organs of hearing in a bear; (2) a geological feature over 8,700 feet tall consisting of two sandstone buttes in southeastern Utah; (3) a prominent landmark featured in the sacred geography of several Native American tribes in the Four Corners region of the United States; (4) the newest National Monument in the United States that has become central to struggles over land rights in the western United States

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Socio-Environmental Disasters and Resilience Approaches

November 30, 2015

Jerry K. Jacka

In April 2015, the rains stopped coming to the New Guinea Highlands—a result of the current El Niño impacting the planet. A few months later in August, the inevitable frosts arrived that also accompany El Niños. What few crops were struggling to survive in people’s gardens were utterly decimated by the frosts, for while people garden in the highlands up to 2,800 meters above sea level, the crops they grow are mostly adapted to lowland tropical environments. The staples of the highlands—sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) and taro (Colocasia esculenta)—cannot be stored; therefore, the inability to continually plant and harvest staple crops poses food insecurity for almost 2 million people in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
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