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Road blocking: Series documents nature in path of proposed interstate

March 2020 issue

Road blocking: Series documents nature in path of proposed interstate

What’s now picturesque desert could someday be hot asphalt if a proposed Arizona interstate is approved by lawmakers.

But not before photographer Frank Staub has documented its beauty.

Staub, who lives just miles from the proposed path, says Interstate 11 would carve a road through both untouched desert and rural residential neighborhoods. “Almost everybody who lives there doesn’t want it,” he says, “because it will destroy a lot of wild desert and it goes close between two national parks.”

To generate awareness about the proposed highway, Staub has been making and sharing photographs of the wildlife corridors the road would eliminate and the residents at risk of losing their homes. The series dovetails into his longtime personal project and photo series “Here Today,” which documents environments in danger of development.  

To find locations for photo making, Staub used the Arizona Department of Transportation’s online map of the proposed interstate path, which delineates a 2,000-foot-wide corridor within which the 400-foot-wide road could one day be paved. To raise awareness and inspire citizens to action, he posts the photos with captions on social media, tagging legislators and including contact information. "I’m trying to get people to write their legislators ... to build a momentum of opposition.”  

Amanda Arnold is associate editor of Professional Photographer. 

Tags: documentary photographylandscape photographynature photography

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