Guest blog written by: Alyce Santoro
The Marfa Mystery Lights are a world-renowned phenomena that occasionally appear as glowing orbs in the remote grasslands of far West Texas, not far from the US/Mexico border, the Big Bend National Park, and the town of Marfa, known as the location for the 1956 film “Giant” and as an enclave for visual artists. Now a corporation is threatening to construct a 42″ high pressure gas pipeline through this unspoiled place, one of the largest intact bioregions in the country. Right this moment, heavy equipment related to the pipeline is clearing land and offloading pipe being delivered by train at a laydown yard 5 miles to the southwest of the Marfa Lights Viewing Station. Trucks and other activity in this formerly-desolate location instantly call the mystery of the Marfa Lights into question, potentially voiding their economic viability as a popular tourist destination (more on the Big Bend Conservation Alliance blog).
Segments of pipe are arriving here in spite of the facts that FERC has not yet issued necessary permits, and 35 area landowners unable to reach agreements with the pipeline company have been served with eminent domain lawsuits.
Defend Big Bend, a local grassroots group, has been helping to coordinate a variety of actions designed to build community and raise awareness. Members inspired by the Overpass Light Brigade felt that this medium would be ideal as a way to bring attention to the threat pipeline construction poses to the Marfa Lights. We staged our first Marfa Mystery Lights Brigade action at the Viewing Station – a public location frequented every evening by tourists and locals of all ages – on Friday, March 18.
We chose the phrase SAVE MYSTERY LIGHTS based on a landmark billboard advertising the Marfa Lights that was once located on the side of a building in downtown Marfa, TX. The original has long since been painted over, but the style and spirit of the sign lives on.