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Temecula Environmental Groups & City to Honor "Avatar" Director James Cameron with First Ever Environmental Media Award

Sierra Club, the Endangered Habitats League and SOS Hills will honor "Avatar" director James Cameron with the first ever Temecula Environmental Award for Outstanding Social Responsibility in Media. "Avatar's" themes closely mirror the environmental and human rights struggle the City of Temecula and its residents are facing against Granite Construction, a powerful corporation that wants to build a massive, polluting gravel pit mine on environmentally and culturally sensitive land in Temecula, CA.

(PRWEB) March 4, 2010 -- Three Riverside County area environmental groups have joined together to name “Avatar” writer and director James Cameron as their first ever recipient of the Temecula Environmental Award for Outstanding Social Responsibility in Media, it was announced today by Jim Mitchell, Chair of The Santa Margarita Group of the Sierra Club.

“The Santa Margarita Group of the Sierra Club has joined together with the Endangered Habitats League and local preservation society SOS Hills to give recognition to the movie ‘Avatar’ and its writer and director James Cameron for dramatically bringing to public attention a very important issue: namely the extraction of mineral resources without proper regard for the future impact on the local environment or on the welfare of surrounding communities” said Mitchell.

“The most striking aspect of the film is its main theme: a distant mining company coming to town to do whatever is necessary and at whatever cost in their effort to extract minerals. Even though the science fiction film ‘Avatar’ tells a story that takes place on a mythical moon in a distant star system over a hundred years in the future, the portrayal is remarkably similar to our local contemporary story that features Granite Construction Company’s proposed plans to dig Liberty Quarry in the Temecula Foothills. As proposed, Liberty Quarry would be one of the country’s largest open pit mines (one mile wide and 1,000 feet deep) that could seriously damage an important wildlife corridor, the Santa Margarita River, and San Diego State’s Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve as well as threaten the health of area residents.”

Dan Silver of the Endangered Habitats League commented, “I hope that through this inspirational film people will more clearly understand the threat of ill-advised resource exploitation projects that will impact a community and generations to come.”

Says SOS Hills President Kathleen Hamilton, “We are so grateful to Mr. Cameron and his film ‘Avatar’ for shedding light on such a crucial environmental and moral issue. The plight of the Na’vi people in his film very closely mirrors the environmental and social struggle the residents of Temecula and surrounding communities are facing as well as the potential destruction of sacred lands of The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. All of our efforts are focused on defeating a giant open pit mine proposed by an uncaring and arrogant company to be sited on environmentally and culturally sensitive lands bordering our city. We realize that his intention in making this film was not to support our cause, but to draw attention to the larger issue – that of the importance of preserving the Earth, its lands and its animals in the face of a mega corporation’s aggressive pursuit of the “bottom line.” Bravo, Mr. Cameron! We cheer you and your wonderful film! I hope that like your Na’vi and the Avatars, we are also successful in defeating this potential environmental and cultural blight upon Temecula.”

The Santa Margarita Group of the Sierra Club, the Endangered Habitats League and SOS Hills hope to make an in-person presentation to Cameron during the annual Temecula International Film and Music Festival in September. Temecula’s Mayor, Jeff Comerchero, has confirmed that he will present the key to the city “in recognition of Mr. Cameron’s contributions to the arts and his unique film making technological advances,” should Cameron be able to accept the award in person.

About Sierra Club

Since 1892, the Sierra Club has been working to protect communities, wild places, and the planet itself. We are the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. And our founder, John Muir, appears on the back of the California quarter. For more information, please visit

About the Endangered Habitats League

The Endangered Habitats League is dedicated to the protection of the diverse ecosystems of Southern California and to sensitive and sustainable land use for the benefit of all the region's inhabitants.

EHL is leading the way toward a better future for all of Southern California’s inhabitants:

  • Secure, intact native landscapes where diverse, abundant wildlife thrives
  • Sustainable human communities with a high quality of life for everyone
  • Rural and agricultural lands saved from sprawl

… A future in which our natural heritage is preserved for our enjoyment and enrichment, as a home for wildlife, and as a legacy for our children and the generations to come. For more information, please visit

About SOS Hills

SOS Hills is a 501-C-3 non profit environmental Ad Hoc Committee of De Luz 2000, a non profit public benefit corporation. SOS Hills was successful in the support of the Riverside Board of Supervisors to form a committee to create a Hillside Ordinance that would prohibit grading on hillsides that did not conform to the natural topography.

In early 2005, SOS Hills became aware of a proposal by Granite Construction Co. to build the Liberty Quarry Gravel Mine just off the 15 Freeway at the Riverside/San Diego County border. Since the preservation group considers this project to have a detrimental impact on the entire valley, they have been active in opposing the project in that location. Their goals are preventing the destruction of the surrounding hills, protecting the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve and field station operated by San Diego State University, and keeping the last link in a major California wildlife corridor undisturbed as the proposed Quarry would destroy this link. For more information, please visit


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