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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.
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.
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