Lens on the Land
Rosemont: What’s at Stake
An introduction to the project and exibit
Who knew that jaguars, a rare orchid, and yellow-billed cuckoos inhabit a landscape just 15 miles southeast of Tucson? This unique region is also home to a growing wine industry, a world-class astronomy observatory, generations of ranching families, and thousands of years of Native American history and tradition. It’s all there, but these resources are under threat by the proposed Rosemont Mine, a massive Canadian-owned copper mine that, if realized, would result in a mine pit 3,000 feet deep and over 1 mile wide. The pit, mine tailings, waste, and other impacts would permanently disturb roughly 3,700 acres of public land within the Coronado National Forest.
The Lens on the Land photography exhibit brings both the region’s resources and threats to light by celebrating the rich biodiversity, riparian areas, cultural heritage, recreational opportunities, rural character, and economies that would be impacted by the Rosemont Mine. Never before has the cultural and ecological richness of the Santa Rita Mountains and surrounding watersheds been represented in an exhibit of this scope and scale.
Though the U.S. Forest Service recently issued a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the mine, the review process is far from complete. What’s at stake in the Forest Service’s decision and that of other agencies can never be replaced. Just a few of the impacts include:
- Loss and degradation of surface and groundwater resources that sustain critical aquatic and riparian areas as well as groundwater for human use
- Destruction of habitat and individuals representing nine endangered and threatened species, including the only known jaguar living in the U.S.
- Complete loss of 85 historic properties that include Native American remains and prehistoric sites, and resource-gathering locations thousands of years old
- Degradation of air quality throughout the region, including Saguaro National Park East & West, from mine vehicles, dirt roads, crushers and conveyors
- Permanent destruction of the area’s scenic integrity, including nine viewpoints along Highway 83 between I-10 and Sonoita
- Significant traffic increases along Highways 83 & 82, as the mine would generate 55-88 round- trip truck shipments daily
- Compromised integrity of the region’s dark skies
- Decreased revenues from Southern Arizona’s 2.4 billion dollar tourism and recreation industryThese are just a few of the many impacts the mine will have on the environment, people, culture, and economy of our region.Through this exhibit, Tucson photographers Josh Schachter and Brian Forbes Powell, in collabora- tion with the Sonoran Institute and Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, seek to bring new perspectives to the resources at stake and the impacts of the proposed mine. Almost two years in the making, Lens on the Land includes photographs by a wide range of contributors, including professional photographers, biologists and concerned citizens throughout Southern Arizona and the West.
The Sonoran Institute inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. The nonprofit Sonoran Institute, founded in 1990, works across the rapidly changing West to conserve and restore natural and cultural assets and to promote better management of growth and change. The Institute’s community-based approach emphasizes collaboration, civil dialogue, sound information, local knowledge, practical solutions and big-picture thinking.
Josh Schachter is a photographer, visual storyteller, community arts facilitator, social ecologist, and cultural organizer who has worked with organizations throughout the U.S. to document issues from urban revitalization to food security. His images have been published internationally in books, magazines, newspapers, films and web sites, in venues ranging from the New York Times to the Navajo Times. Josh earned a master’s degree in environmental management at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he explored how youth could use photography to share their own lives and unique perspectives. Over the past 14 years he has collaborated on community-based storytelling and media projects with youth, teachers, neighborhood groups, and nonprofit organizations in places ranging from New Delhi to Nigeria to the US-Mexico border. In 2010 Josh received PhotoPhilanthropy’s International “Grand Prize Community-Based Activist Award” and in 2009 was the recipient of the “Arizona Teaching Artist Award for Innovation” from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.
Brian Forbes Powell is a Tucson-based photographer and ecologist. He grew up in Augusta Resources’ hometown of Vancouver, Canada. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in natural resource conservation. Brian has recieved a number of national and international photography awards, including a First Place in the Travel Photographer of the Year (2010) competition and Grand Prize in the National Geographic/Nikon Full Story Contest (2013). His favorite photographic subject and pursuit is to document the wild landscapes of southern Arizona.
Western Mining Action Network
Summit Hut’s Banff Grant
We would also like to thank these partner organizations and businesses who have donated time, materials and funds to help us meet our goals: