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James and Edith Harmon Environmental Collection, 1973-1998Add to your cart. | Special Collections & University Archives

Title: James and Edith Harmon Environmental Collection, 1973-1998Add to your cart.
ID: MS-0125
Extent: 17.72 Linear Feet
Predominant Dates: 1980-1998
expand icon Historical Note

James and Edith Harmon were married for 28 years.  James Harmon was born May 24, 1919 in Middletown, Ohio. As a young man he enrolled in the Navy and fought in World War II.  He later went on to fight in the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  James achieved the difficult task of becoming an officer after entering service as an enlisted man.  After serving 20 years, he retired from the military, and pursued his PhD in Political Science.  He went on to become a professor at San Diego State University Imperial Valley Campus from 1964-1981.  James requested assignment to the remote campus because of his love for the desert habitat. While at SDSU he became the Chair of the Political Science Department.  Also at SDSU, James met Edith, or Edie as she is more commonly known.  She was born in 1945 and was 26 years his junior.  The couple spent almost every day of their marriage together, until his death on April 26, 2007.  Edie Harmon grew up in Massachusetts.  She graduated from Macalester College in 1966 as a geography major.  She fell in love with the desert when she went to Africa with the Peace Corps.  She would go on to spend time in Africa as a teacher in biology and art.  While there she also studied desert lands and animals.  When she met James, Edie decided to move to Imperial County.  While in Imperial County Edie went on to become a longtime volunteer for the Sierra Club and the Desert Protective Council.  She continues to be the liaison between the Bureau of Land Management and the Sierra Club. 

The Harmons began their environmental battles in the 1970s.  Their initial motive was local commercial companies which were siphoning excess groundwater from Imperial County residents.  At the time, Imperial County did not have any attorneys who focused on environmental law; as a result the Harmons educated themselves on the relevant legal issues.  By the time they joined the Sierra Club in 1990, they had already participated in multiple environmental lawsuits.  The Harmons became proficient at analyzing Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), gathering evidence against proposed projects, and initiating litigation. 

The Harmons spent much of their time trying to prevent the construction of landfills in the Southern California deserts, including the Mesquite Regional Landfill proposed in 1992, the Eagle Mountain Landfill also proposed in 1992, the Bolo Station Landfill in 1994, the Republic Imperial Landfill of 1994, and the Campo Solid Waste Management site in 1995. They prevented the construction of all of these landfills except for the Mesquite Regional Landfill, which was approved and built by Arid Operations, and the Campo Solid Waste Management project, which is still pending.

The Harmons also opposed mining operations including the White Pit mining project in 1995, Jimenez Pit project in 1996, the Castle Mountain Mine in 1997, and the Soledad Mountain Mining project, also in 1997.  The Harmons prevented construction of the White Pit Mine, while the Jimenez Pit project and Castle Mountain Mine expansion project were both approved and built.  The Soledad Mountain Mining project is still pending. 

James and Edie Harmon opposed projects which dealt with sewage waste, sludge waste, and agricultural damaging projects, including one in the Ocotillo-Coyote Wells Basin in 1989, and two in Imperial County in 1996 and 1998.  They also worked successfully to uphold a decision preventing construction of the North County Recycling and Energy Recovery Plant in 1987.

Author: Ricardo Baca (Intern)
expand icon Arrangement

I. Mesquite Landfill Project Files (1984-1996)

II. Sewage and Sludge Waste Files (1985-1997)

III. Eagle Mountain Landfill Files (1991-1997)

IV. North County Recycling and Energy Recovery Center Files (1981-1987)

V. Campo Solid Waste Management Project Files (1992-1994)

VI. Republic Imperial Landfill Expansion Files (1994-1996)

VII. El Remate Incorporated Agricultural Project Files (1973-1990)

VIII. Soledad Mountain Mining Project Files (1997)

IX. Castle Mountain Mine Expansion Project Files (1987-1998)

X. White Pit Mining Project Files (1995-1998)

XI. Bolo Station Landfill Files (1994)

XII. Jimenez Pit Granite Construction Files (1996)

expand icon Administrative Information
Acquired: 06/16/2004.
Restrictions: This collection is open for research.
Rights: The copyright interests in these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections is such that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish. Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.
Acquisition Note: James and Edith Harmon
Preferred Citation: Identification of item, folder title, box number, James and Edith Harmon Environmental Collection, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.
Collection Material Type: Personal Papers
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