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Soaring Higher: Oil Spills, Endangered Wolves, The Power of Awe
When Oil Spills, We’re First on the Scene
When a section of the Keystone pipeline burst spilling more than 210,000 gallons of oil onto the South Dakota prairie, LightHawk sprang into action.
Working hand-in-hand with our national partner the Waterkeeper Alliance and tribal leaders from Dakotas for America, we assembled flights over the spill, allowing for a thorough assessment of potential damage to groundwater resources and the best way to clean up the soil.
Photos and video taken on the flight went viral, and the subsequent media coverage helped inform the national conversation about the safety of pipeline transmission of oil.
Through your support, we create long-term partnerships, our expert conservation staff plan all of the logistics and determine the beneficial outcomes of flights. Quickly mobilizing pilots, we provide critical non-partisan perspectives to our nation’s most important conservation issues.
“LightHawk” — Endangered Wolf Gets New Home, Mate
Last November was a big month for the Mexican wolf #1564.
The genetically-valuable wolf from New Mexico was selected as a match with a female wolf in New York. Cross-country genetic matchmaking of these closely-managed wolves ensures diversity critical to their species recovery, but the logistics of relocating wolves at the right time are often challenging.
Enter LightHawk. We deftly coordinate flying these wolves with care, avoiding longer, troublesome, and potentially health-damaging commercial flights or worse, ground transportation.
In honor of Jim Houser and Michael Baum, the volunteer pilots who flew him to his new home, #1564 was renamed LightHawk. Staff at the Wolf Conservation Center hope he and his new mate Trumpet will welcome pups in the spring.
Your support is helping LightHawk carry his valuable genetics into the next generation, helping keep this critical species from extinction.
Protecting the Columbia from a Mega Dairy’s Sewage Violations
When one of the largest dairies in Oregon history was constructed a stone’s throw from the Columbia River, LightHawk helped conservationists monitor its conservation impacts.
LightHawk designed a flight campaign with Columbia Riverkeeper and we took to the air to survey and photograph Lost Valley Ranch, which was creating millions of gallons of manure. Unfortunately, that liquid manure repeatedly overflowed from lagoons and into the river, putting 81 public drinking water supplies at risk of contamination, while threatening the Columbia and its endangered salmon.
The dairy was fined $10,000 and cited four times for failing inspections — each violation giving the operator steps to stay in operation, which it was unable to do, and as a result, the state ordered its closure.
LightHawk photos of the dairy ran in local media, informing the public and local decision makers about the dairy and dangerous health risks.
Awareness Saving Mexican Jaguars
The jaguar was almost exterminated from northern Mexico, but thanks to our effort, and the consistent effort of conservationists and locals, they are making a comeback.
LightHawk recently teamed up with renowned conservation photographer Jaime Rojo to photograph the Northern Jaguar Reserve, 50,000-acres voluntarily set aside by ranchers and conservationists to save these big cats.
Photographs of the hard-to-access area were meant to help raise funds and to encourage local ranchers to participate. Rojo and his partner Naturalia said the photos were “key” in the recent expansion of the reserve.
Through your support of us, you were on that flight helping Rojo and partners raise awareness and protect more land for the jaguar, and creating a success story of how protected areas can help save animals from extinction.
First View of Well Explosion Inform Locals
When a gas well pad in Ohio exploded and caught fire, LightHawk navigated around temporary flight restrictions to allow our partner FracTracker and a local journalist a first-hand view of the incident.
With an estimated 100 million cubic feet of natural gas spilling into the sky per day and local residents ordered to evacuate, LightHawk and pilot Dave Warner allowed for the first aerial view of the well. The flight allowed FracTracker to use its national resources to raise awareness in hopes of preventing a similar accident.
Photos and media helped nearby residents visualize the situation in their backyards and informed the local dialogue about energy extraction safety. Your support allows us to spring into action to inform conservationists and the media, allowing for a more informed debate on resource production.
The Power of Awe
From the sky, LightHawk unleashes the power of awe, revealed through the windows of a small plane. The awe of flight causes people to see a much bigger picture, far larger than themselves, and (in our case) to do more to help save our environment. The awe that you also believe in reveals the transcendent power of nature. It stirs souls and creates change, for our lands, oceans, coastlines, rivers and wildlife, and you make that happen.
Whenever we report on our success, it is your generosity that drives every outcome. Thank you for standing with us as we continue inspiring change to save our planet.