Can the artists save the Salton Sea?
The battle for the Salton Sea is the biggest environmental crisis plaguing the West in recent memory. This issue, however, pits those who will make a fortune from the lake on one side from those who want to save it on the other. Both sides have their own reasons for feeling passionately about the Salton Sea. On the one side, big conservation and preservation forces, such as the National Park Service, are fighting for it. On the other side, a handful of radical environmentalists and indigenous peoples are fighting to save the Salton Sea, and the world’s largest saltwater lake.
This conflict is complicated in a manner that is hard to comprehend, and in a way we have seen no other time in modern history. I have spent the last year researching this issue as much as I can, interviewing people I have never met and piecing together the story from snippets of conversations with friends and people I have worked with, such as the president of the National Parks Conservation Association, Steve Hemenway. I believe that it is our duty to do that, and to offer the rest of the world the chance to gain insight into this issue, to tell their own stories and to learn new things about our planet’s future.
My goal is to shed light on the conflict and show how the battle between conservationists, indigenous peoples and developers play out in the West.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Hemenway, the president of the National Parks Conservation Association, about this. Hemenway spoke with me a day after he attended the Salton Sea Conservancy’s annual meeting. It was the first time that I have ever met with the executive director of the conservancy. I have often been asked by the media and others why the conservancy is fighting for the Salton Sea. I was recently asked if it would be possible to see me speak to the conservancy’s