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A Great AridnessClimate Change and the Future of the American Southwest$
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William deBuys

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199778928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199778928.001.0001

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Mt. Graham: The Biopolitics of Change

Mt. Graham: The Biopolitics of Change

10 Mt. Graham: The Biopolitics of Change
A Great Aridness

William deBuys

Oxford University Press

The site manager for the Mt. Graham International Observatory (MGIO) met us at the locked gate to the Telescope Road. He was not there to greet us. John Ratje had driven out from Tucson, starting before dawn and traveling not less than two and a half hours, to demand that we surrender to him a key that would have opened the gate. A member of his staff had loaned it to us the afternoon before, but Ratje swept aside that troublesome fact. Ratje also demanded the two-way radio we’d been issued to assure safety on the narrow road to the mountaintop. “That’s University of Arizona property,” he said. “It should not have been given to you.” Our shock at his demands no doubt showed in our faces. Ratje wanted to forestall argument, so he added ominously, “University police are on their way.” I’d been about to unlock the gate when he stepped from the trees. His truck was parked nearby, and he’d no doubt been waiting quite a while. He was a big man, but uncomfortable. His voice had a quaver of anxiety. At first I thought he merely wanted to inspect our one-day permit for entering the Red Squirrel Refugium, the restricted area that surrounds the observatory, at the top of the mountain. I’d obtained the permit from the Forest Service the previous day in Safford; I pulled it now from my shirt pocket, unfolded it, and extended it to him, but he ignored it. We did not have permission to go in, he repeated: “This area is ours.” I stammered a question or two, but the answer did not vary: our entry was barred, and police would soon arrive to ensure our compliance. Then my companion, Peter Warshall, a conservation biologist whose name was recorded on the permit along with mine, asked, “Is this about me? Am I the reason you won’t let us in?” “Your name was part of the discussion,” Ratje said. A discussion? I had thought our visit was routine.

Keywords:   Apaches, Big-Footed Mountain, Catalina Mountains, Douglas-firs, Geometrid moth, Madrean Archipelago, National Audubon Society, Nuttall Fire, San Carlos Apaches, Vatican

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