In the nation's most dangerous park, the desert's heat still beats

  • Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge

    Carol Ann Bassett
 

In Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge, author Carol Ann Bassett heeds the advice of her mentor, Ed Abbey: "Learning about the desert takes time," she writes. "Abbey once wrote the best way to do so was to ‘Pick out a good spot and just sit there, not moving, for about a year — and watch what happens.’ "

Since her first visit to the remote and rugged Organ Pipe National Monument in 1988, the wide-open spaces, crystalline light, and diversity of Sonoran Desert life — "a countryside hot, prickly, and easy to get lost in" — have kept bringing her back.

The desert oasis "full of stately saguaros and golden poppies" that first drew Bassett’s attention has changed markedly since its establishment as a national monument in 1937. Because existing barbed-wire fencing from past cattle-ranching days doesn’t deter the thousand or more immigrants and smugglers who nightly trek across the border, authorities are building a 30-mile-long, 5-foot-high barrier to minimize environmental damage.

"There’s a risk in returning to a place you’ve fallen in love with because of the changes that have occurred. This unique ecology and resources are being compromised to the point where current changes may prove irrevocable. This area has been called the most dangerous park in the country and, unfortunately, in some ways, that’s true."

Insisting that serenity can be found for those brave enough to depart main roads for side canyons, Bassett believes one can still discover "the natural heartbeat of the desert." And the book’s final chapter gives adventurers a reason to visit: "Everything I need to know can be learned in the desert," she writes. "Joy, sorrow, beauty, fear, trust, patience, tenacity. In the desert, knowledge comes intuitively if I listen."


Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge

Carol Ann Bassett, photographs by Michael Hyatt,

92 pages, softcover: $13.95.

University of Arizona Press, 2004.

 

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Everland Mountain Retreat includes 318 mountaintop acres with a 3,200 square foot lodge and two smaller homes. Endless vistas of the Appalachian mountains, open skies,...
  • Home Resource is a non-profit community sustainability center. We work with, in, and for the community to reduce waste and build a more vibrant and...
  • Spectacular views of snowcapped Sierras. 15 miles from Kings Canyon/Sequoia Parks. 47 acres with 2 homes/75' pool/gym/patios/gardens. 1670 sq.ft. main home has 3 bdrm/1 bath....
  • Borderlands Restoration Network 501c3 is hiring a full-time Development Director. Description and job details can be found at https://www.borderlandsrestoration.org/job-opportunities.html
  • Beautiful off-the-grid passive solar near the CDT. 9.4 acres, north of Silver City. Sam, 575.388.1921
  • The City of Fort Collins is seeking an Environmental Planning Manager in the Natural Areas Department. The Department has an annual budget of approximately $13...
  • We are seeking an experienced designer to be the team lead for web development and digital media. Part creator and part planner, this person should...
  • Vermont Law School seeks a Faculty Director for its Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic (ENRLC) to commence in the Summer or Fall of 2019....
  • at RCAC. See the full description at https://bit.ly/2WJ3HvY Apply at [email protected]
  • The Utah Rivers Council is looking for an energetic individual with strong communication and organizing skills. The Grassroots Organizer works to ensure our campaigns are...
  • Newly refurbished and tuned. Older model, great condition. Gasoline engine. Chains on tires. Heavy duty for mountain snow. Call cellphone and leave message or email.
  • Hiring a part-time ranch manager to live on The Nature Conservancy's Carpenter Ranch property in Hayden, CO. Responsibilities include: facility maintenance of historic ranch house,...
  • unique custom home in Sangre de Cristo Mountains of CO near La Veta Pass, 3 bed, 2 1/2 bath, private gated park, two hours from...
  • Kaniksu Land Trust, a community-supported non-profit land trust serving north Idaho and northwest Montana, is in search of a new executive director. The ideal candidate...
  • The Flathead Lakers are seeking a dynamic, self-motivated and proven leader to be our next Executive Director (ED).
  • The Blackfoot Challenge, a renowned collaborative conservation org in MT, seeks our next ED.
  • 10-day tour from Los Mochis airport, 2/nyts El Fuerte, train, 2/nyts canyon rim hotel, 5/nyts camping. 520-324-0209, www.coppercanyontrails.org.
  • Earthjustice is hiring for a Staff Attorney
  • to lead an organization that funds projects in National Parks. Major gift fundraising and public lands experience critical. PD and app details @ peopleinparks.org.
  • Visit our website for full description and to apply.No phone calls please. NPCA is an EOE.