Page 4


Massive palm trees are seen along the edge of the Casa Blanca wetlands. When Torres saw photographs of the threatened wetlands, she felt a call to action. Never politically involved before, she joined Earhart, who had been her professor in 1984, and others in a petition drive that has collected more than 12,000 signatures opposing the destruction of the Casa Blanca wetland. The Laredo City Council, the Corps of Engineers, the EPA, and various lawmakers have received copies. In mid-April Torres went before the Laredo City Council to ask that the wetland be saved. “This is a beautiful place, a beautiful place,” she said, choking up. “How can you think of destroying it? I don’t know what you are thinking. But I tell you, people like me, they’re not going to allow you to do it, they’re not going to allow it.” In a border region wracked by intractable environmental problems, the wetland may seem trivial. Earhart, an admirer of 18 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JULY 27, 2007 eco-agitator Edward Abbey and naturalist Aldo Leopold, has taken on bigger foes. Over the years he’s criticized the Border Patrol for the erosion caused by its ever-expanding riverside patrol roads, pushed city hall to locate industry away from the toxics-laden Rio Grande, and once had to suffer through an appearance in Laredo by Tom DeLay during which the former House majority leader casually proposed eliminating all vegetation along the Rio Grande in the name of border security. In the early ’90s, Earhart cofounded Laredo’s sole environmental nonprofit, the Rio Grande International Study Center, to aid the long-suffering river. “Everybody would joke about the turds floating out of the creeks into the river, especially in Nuevo Laredo. There was kind of a general feeling back then of, what can you do, what can you do?” Earhart says. Earhart’s retirement dream of