Defending the desert

In the minds of far too many people, says former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, the Southwest's public lands are a wasteland. "Indestructible because there is nothing to destroy; unworthy of protection." Now, a new handbook by the Environmental Defense Fund provides activists and educators with the tools to tackle this myth. Defending the Desert: Conserving Biodiversity on BLM Lands in the Southwest begins with a natural history of the arid lands and explains how human activities such as mining, livestock grazing, road construction, recreation and water diversion affect biodiversity. In non-technical language, the handbook describes how the Bureau of Land Management manages its land, what laws govern the agency, and how citizens can get involved. The 148-page handbook is $15 for individuals but free to environmental organizations or individual activists. Contact the Environmental Defense Fund, 257 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010.