When the remains of two undocumented migrants were found in the desert of south-western Arizona last July, one body lay next to an arrow drawn in the sand, pointing north, with the word “HELP” written beneath. The men had perished while attempting to cross into the US from Mexico, according to border patrol.
At Sierra Vista Ranch in Arizona near the Mexican border, Troy McDaniel is warming up his helicopter. McDaniel, tall and slim in a tan jumpsuit, began taking flying lessons in the 80s, and has since logged 2,000 hours in the air. The helicopter, a cosy, two-seater Robinson R22 Alpha is considered a work vehicle and used to monitor the 640-acre ranch, but it’s clear he relishes any opportunity to fly.
By the 1960s, the North American jaguar had vanished from the southern US borderland after being hunted to extinction. Yet in the mid-1990s, there was a remarkable discovery: the jaguar had reappeared in the Sky Islands of Arizona, a region of rugged linked mountain ranges spanning the US and Mexico border that boasts the highest biodiversity in inland North America.
In the 1980s, when Kevin Dahl first began visiting the Organ Pipe Cactus national monument in southern Arizona, the border was unmarked, save for a simple fence used to keep cattle from a ranch in the US from crossing into Mexico. In those days, park rangers would call in their lunch orders at a diner located just across the border.
As a national debate swirls around statues of Confederate officials, a new battle is brewing in the western US over the fate of monuments glorifying the brutal Spanish conquest of the Americas. Armed vigilantes under scrutiny after statue protester shot in New Mexico. Last week, officials in Rio Arriba county, 40 minutes north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, removed the first, a statue of Oñate.
Officials are scrutinizing armed vigilante groups in New Mexico following the shooting of a protester calling for the removal of a controversial colonial statue. Police are examining whether the shooter belonged to New Mexico Civil Guard, whose members were out in force at the Monday demonstration in Albuquerque.
On demo day at the Border Security Expo, hundreds of law enforcement agents armed with M16s, automatic shotguns, pistols, and other high powered and military-grade weapons strolled around the grounds at the Bandera Gun Club outside of San Antonio. The sound of continuous gunfire from the “Sharpshooter Classic”—a multi-staged shooting competition put on by the Border Patrol Foundation—combined with the nearby buzz of a $100k surveillance drone hovering above a grass field in Texas Hill Country.
Treasure hunters have reacted with shock, delight and disbelief to the news that a chest containing gems, gold and antiques worth up to $2m has reportedly been found in the Rocky Mountains. “I’ve had every emotion under the sun,” said Sacha Dent of Kansas, who dedicated years to a quest that resulted in the deaths of up to five people.
When Ken Pimlott began fighting US wildfires at the age of 17, they seemed to him to be a brutal but manageable natural phenomenon. Dust bowl conditions of 1930s US now more than twice as likely to reoccur. “We had periodic [fire] sieges in the 80s, but there were breaks in between,” said Pimlott, the former head of the California department of forestry and fire protection.
On Wednesday, Zion national park in Utah, one of the most popular natural attractions in the US, received its first visitors in more than a month as the Trump administration continued its push to reopen the nation’s outdoors as well as it cities and businesses. More than 4,000 people poured into the beauty spot from numerous states.
Unlike the rest of the US, the sleepy border community of Ajo, Arizona, is busier than ever these days, as hundreds of border wall construction workers pass through each day. “The rest of us are staying at home just the way the governor has ordered,” said Susan Guinn-Lahm, an Ajo resident in her 60s.