PHOENIX – Activist groups and legislators gathered at the state Capitol for “Environmental Day” to address nature, wildlife and water. With the “Save Water, Save Life” theme, dozens of groups advocated for legislative changes and support for the environment and general sustainability.
Among these organizations was the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization. Borderlands Program Coordinator Erick Meza expressed the importance of preserving wildlife around the U.S.-Mexico border, especially endangered species.
“We advocate for the opening of wildlife passages so the migration corridors can continue,” Meza said. “These are ancestral migration corridors for species that are on the endangered species list, such as jaguars, Sonoran pronghorn.”
Meza said the organization is advocating for environmental restoration, minimizing or stopping the construction of border walls that could affect local species and minimizing the presence of law enforcement.
Another nonprofit at the event, Wild At Heart, focuses on rehabilitation for birds of prey, specifically those injured by gunfire, said Greg Clark, the organization’s burrowing owl habitat coordinator.
“I do most of my work with burrowing owls, and burrowing owls are affected by agricultural land that’s converted to houses, warehouses – anything that will grade the soil affects the underground burrows for burrowing owls,” Clark said.
The organization’s translocation program takes recovered owls to less-populated areas with active irrigation, which decreases the risk of the birds getting buried underground by land developments. Protecting raptors and migratory birds and research support were among the group’s priorities.
“A bird can’t just make one single trip from the north part of North America down through Mexico or Central America without stopping points,” Clark said. “We really don’t know where all of those stopping points are, and if you don’t know, you can’t invest money to conserve or improve those migration stops.”
The nonprofit group Moms Clean Air Force was among event attendees there to explain their agenda as it relates to environmental concerns, including climate change. Hazel Chandler, a lifelong climate activist and a field coordinator for the group, said one of her primary drivers was her health issues caused by climate change, as well as children who develop respiratory problems as a result of polluted air.
One solution she highlighted was from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which awarded some school districts in the state funds to purchase electric-powered school buses.
“I can’t emphasize how important it (climate change) is because our world is kind of almost collapsing around us, and if we don’t do something very quickly, we’re going to have a future none of us like,” Chandler said. “But we have a road to get there. We have a road to get to sustainable energy. When we start to prioritize people, people’s health, and our right to clean air and clean water and a livable environment, then we start to do things differently.”