Save the Patagonia Mountains from Surface Mining

Target: Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service

Goal: Protect the fragile ecosystems of the Patagonia Mountains from international mining interests

With their isolated swaths of trees soaring above the horizon, the Sky Islands of the Patagonia Mountains remain one of the most beautiful–and the most essential–natural formations in North America. These forested mountains separated by desert and grassland are home to more than half of all North American species of bird, 29 bat species, more than 3,000 plant species, more than 100 species of mammals, and more than 28 endangered or at-risk species. With so much delicate biodiversity at stake, it would seem natural to apply protective measures to these vital habitats–yet time and time again, the United States Forest Service has chosen to prioritize the interests of international mining companies over the wishes of conservationists.

While the Patagonias have historically supported small, sustainable mining projects, international companies are seeking to exploit the mountain range on an unprecedented scale. The huge open-pit mines involved in surface mining destroy the habitats of countless species of plants and animals. Such industrial-scale mining also pollutes nearby water supplies, causes wildfires and erosion, and releases toxins into the environment.

The Forest Service has downplayed the environmental effects that mining projects have unleashed upon the region, but the damage is clear. Former mining sites remain bereft of their natural vegetation and surrounded by debris. Future mining projects will only serve to decimate this delicate area further, condemning threatened species (like the jaguar and the Mexican spotted owl) to continued endangerment and possibly even extinction.

Tell the chief of the U.S. Forest Service that the Patagonian Sky Islands can’t take any more damage from mining projects. Save this delicate and irreplaceable habitat by demanding that the U.S. implement protective measures on the region at once.


Dear Mr. Tidwell,

The Sky Islands of the southwestern United States remain some of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse natural habitats in America. Yet too many acres of these forested mountain ranges have fallen victim to international mining companies, who destroy vital habitat in order to strip the land of its minerals.

Alarmingly, the U.S. Forest Service has chosen repeatedly to side with these mining companies instead of implementing protective measures to save these forests from industrial activity. When the fate of hundreds of species of plants and animals rests on whether or not mining companies are allowed to operate within these lands, how can the Forest Service in good conscience opt for industry over preservation?

Key species like the jaguar, the lesser long-nosed bat, and the Mexican spotted owl depend upon these beautiful and diverse forests. To sacrifice their homes to international industry is to promise future generations a world without these animals. But mining operations in the Patagonias doesn’t just jeopardize animal life; by polluting nearby water supplies and increasing the risk of wildfires, these mining companies put human welfare in danger too.

I demand that you consider the damage that has already been done to these irreplaceable ecosystems and formulate plans to conserve the Patagonian Sky Islands for generations to come.


[Your Name Here]

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