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Defending the Desert

Reported by Chris Clarke

Help me report on the North American deserts, and I’ll give you a story a week on the continent’s most intact, most threatened, and most biologically diverse ecosystems.

Back this work
*This project is live and producing stories.
At 50 backers Chris Clarke can provide sustainable reporting you won't get anywhere else.

We hit our goal with more than a week to spare. Thanks for your support.

Here’s my stretch goal.

At 85 subscribers I’ll be able to produce a series on the Owens River watershed, to note the 100th anniversary of the completion of the LA Aqueduct. Each piece will be shared on BEACON, and when the series is done, we’ll produce it as a small ebook and send it to subscribers as thanks.

Eighty-five subscribers equals 170% on the progress bar on this page.

Here’s what you’ll get:

  • One original story a week, on threats facing the desert.

  • Exclusive interactions with me in BEACON discussion forums.

  • Access to every story, by every writer on BEACON.

  • My top-level backers will get a “Desert Defender” T-shirt in a size of their choice, courtesy of the folks at BEACON.

America’s deserts are under assault.

Long considered barren and empty, useless for anything but nuclear testing and toxic waste dumping, the arid lands of North America have long been spared the overwhelming development visited on places like the Great Plains’ grasslands and the West Coast’s old growth forests.

But the deserts aren’t barren. They’re not empty. The North American deserts have their own rich biological diversity, and a rich cultural history as well. North America’s deserts make up almost 800,000 square miles of largely intact habitat.


But because they’re seen as barren, our deserts are targeted for the kinds of developments that wouldn’t fly in more heavily populated areas, like landfills and sewage sludge dumps. And as our society confronts its contributions to climate change, the desert is increasingly offered up as a sacrifice so that people who live elsewhere can go “green” without rethinking their lifestyles.

The landscapes that are the soul of North America are being threatened.

With your help, I’ll report on those threats — and on the unique natural and cultural aspects of the desert that are so very worth preserving.

desert defender

My top-level backers will get a “Desert Defender” shirt in a size of their choice, courtesy of the folks at BEACON.

You? Add your name to the list →

Andrew MacKellar

wendy wilke

Meg Foley

Rob Mrowka

Laurie Jones Neighbors

Richard E Davis

Kim Whitney

Robert Vaughn

Elizabeth A. Nunn

Maggie Fusari

PZ Myers

David Becker

Leslie Sobel

Sherrie Wesberry

John Wall

Will Mattsson

Jill Giegerich

Wally Borgeson

Sonya shiffer

Jim Andre

Gloria Putnam

John Feeney

Jym Dyer

Kristjan Wager

Charles Hohn

Kenn Kaufman

Lorraine Salas

amanda bellerby

Marie Choi

Ryan Chriatensen

Heather Driscoll

John Hansen

Vance Dubberly

John Mitchell

Yaney MacIver

Rachel Shaw

Scott Sexton

Brent Kryda

Jane Tsong

Ann Wellington

Randy Lyman

Janine Blaeloch

Nathaniel Frein

Michael Dennt

Robert Greacen

Veronica Sullivan

John Stendahl

Pamela Richards

Gordon MacGinitie

Arvind Baddepudi

Donald Newell

Cecile Christensen

Robert Carr

Florian Weller

Sherri Andrews

Tiffany Arnold

Teri Macias

Steven Lawrence

Lawrence Hogue

James Stanger

Patrick O'Driscoll

Bonnie Brady

Terry Weiner

Jim Dodson

Connie Barlow

Kenneth Sitz

Lynda Armbruster

Samuel Thomasson

Carson Blaker

Robert Ellis

Eric Perlmutter

Bill Harris

Kevin Keith

norbert lies

Leslie Sobel

Jack Freer

Kevin Hayes

Lyn Dunagan

Jacob Forman

Florian Boyd

Deborah Bollinger

Deanna Pineda

Bora Zivkovic

Eric Merrell

Gabriela Ziolkowski

Shawn Miklaucic

Madhusudan Katti

Tiffany Rojas

Kris Collingridge

Terry Frewin

Ann Garry

Pat Flanagan

Harley Keisch

Tom Budlong

Danielle Salvadori

Robert Mulroy

Stacy Goss

Wynne Benti

Dipika S Kadaba

Frank Schneider

Plus 30 others who want to read stories about Defending the Desert
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When you back something on Beacon, you also get access to every story by every other writer.
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Monthly subscription
Monthly subscription to Chris’s work and to BEACON. You’ll get the opportunity to read exclusive stories from Chris, and every single story by every other writer on BEACON. You can cancel at any time.
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3 month subscripton
3 month subscription to Chris’s work and to BEACON. Your subscription will automatically renew after three months. You can cancel at any time.
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6 month subscription to Chris’s work and to BEACON. Your subscription will expire after six months.
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6 months for you and a friend
You’ll get a six-month subscription to Chris’s work and to BEACON, AND you’ll get an additional six-month subscription that you can send to a friend.
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1 year subscription + hangout
Year long subscription to Chris’s work and to BEACON. Your subscription will expire after one year. You’ll also get an invitation to participate in an exclusive hangout with Chris, where you can ask him about ask him about his work and about our wild desert lands.
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1 year subscription + hangout + Desert Defender T-shirt + share with a friend
Year long subscription to Chris’s work and to BEACON. Your subscription will expire after one year. You’ll get an invitation to the exclusive hangout, and you’ll also get the official Desert Defender as thanks for being a top-level backer. We’ll also give you an additional three-month gift subscription, that you can share with a friend.
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Chris Clarke BIOGRAPHY

I’ve been reporting on Western environmental issues since the late 1980s, at first for local grassroots environmental publications and then branching into the mainstream. My work has received an Utne Alternative Press Award, and a respectable showing in the Advocacy Journalism section of the 2013 Los Angeles Press Club Awards.

Aside from publications I’ve edited, including the award-winning Earth Island Journal, my work has appeared in Orion, Camas, Bay Nature, California Wild, the New Internationalist, and about thirty daily papers nationwide. I write about 500 pieces a year for Los Angeles’ KCET, the nation’s largest independent public television station.

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