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In the August installment of Our Land, environmental correspondent Laura Paskus revisits the Gold King Mine spill and the destructive impact of the toxic orange plume that went flowing down the Animas and San Juan rivers five years ago. The waste that was released when crews tried to reopen the abandoned mine killed fish and coated river banks with heavy metals. Paskus reports with help from a grant by The Water Desk, an independent journalism initiative based at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism.  

Laura Paskus also interviews Lillian Petersen, an extraordinary young woman who just won the Regeneron Science Talent Search prize of a quarter of a million dollars. The Los Alamos High School student’s winning project, which predict harvests early in the growing year for every country in Africa, has also won the attention of the International Food Policy Research Institute. 

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the economy across New Mexico, including on tourism and the arts in tribal communities. Many Native artists rely on summer art shows to sell their works, and one of the biggest festivals is Indian Market – going online this summer because of the pandemic. Correspondent Antonia Gonzales talks about how the Native American art world is attracting virtual visitors. 

August 12 was “back to school” – virtually – for APS students. Gene Grant and The Line opinion panel discuss what the start of a new school year looks like during a pandemic, and also examine how an August tourist season plays out during COVID. The Line wraps up their panel discussion with a look at the tussle between the New Mexico GOP and the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.

Host: Gene Grant     

In Focus Interviews:
Our Land: Gold King Mine Spill Revisited 
Correspondent: Laura Paskus 
Guests:
Talon Newton, hydrogeologist, NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources 
Susan Palko-Schraa, Animas River homeowner 
Karletta Chief, Environmental Science Department, University of Arizona 

Regeneron Science Talent Search Winner  
Correspondent: Laura Paskus 
Guest: Lillian Petersen, grand prize winner, Regeneron Science Talent Search 

Online Indian Market 
Correspondent: Antonia Gonzales 
Guests:
Kim Peone, executive director, Southwestern Association for American Indian Arts 
Karl Duncan, executive director, Poeh Cultural Center 
Eugene Tapahe, fine art photographer  

The Line Opinion Panel:
Host: Gene Grant 
Panelists: Merritt Allen, Vox Optima  
Dede Feldman, former state senator     
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group PR