Revised 8 Apr 2008 –
Do something: Write or call Congress. See the No Texas Border Wall campaign and their suggestions for action with several petitions to sign and instructions for contacting government officials. Defenders of Wildlife has a handy form here for writing to your representative.
The proposed border wall (1) from Texas to California has been hotly debated, but birders should be aware that aside from local residents (2), as a group, we will be among those most strongly affected by it. Problems include:
- the destruction and fragmentation of habitat – imagine building a four-lane highway through the area (3).
- current plans call for the wall to be erected between US birders and several of our most popular birding sites – such as the National Audubon Society’s Sabal Palm Grove, The Nature Conservancy’s Southmost Preserve, and parts of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge – relegating those places to the Mexican side of the fence, with no plans for visitor access (4)
- over 30 environmental laws were summarily waived on 1 Apr 2008 (no joke), so that construction of hundreds of miles of border fence would not be slowed down by the nuisance of considering endangered species, clean water, Native American burial sites, etc. (5)
Border security is important, but for whatever help this wall will provide (6), the need for secure borders should not trample environmental laws. We must be able to increase security while still maintaining the natural and cultural heritage of the border region.
1) In the subtleties of language, calling this a fence implies a neighborly sort of boundary marker. It is really a wall, actually two walls – at least 15 feet high, solid metal and concrete, with a road on either side (see photos here).
2) Local residents are overwhelmingly opposed to the wall. An article in the Texas Observer with the local viewpoint and other issues is here
(3) from a Houston Chronicle article here “Federal wildlife officials said they are concerned the waiver of the Endangered Species Act and other environmental laws will threaten the survival of a number of animals by allowing the fence to be built through a 90,000-acre wildlife corridor they spent $100 million assembling in South Texas.”
(4) A refuge official says that over two-thirds of National Wildlife refuge land in the Valley will be negatively impacted, either directly or indirectly. Not to mention that access to the river will be limited, and a number of homes, businesses, and historic sites will be on the other side of the planned wall.
(5) Defenders of Wildlife press release here
(6) only 70 miles of wall are planned along 300 miles of the Rio Grande. Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster told the Houston Chronicle here “I’m just a yahoo from Eagle Pass, Texas, but this is just the absolute height of folly”
8 Apr New York Times story about the legal issues of the waiver is here
A detailed 4 Apr story in Newsweek is here
The 7 Apr New York Times story about the issue here
A Houston Chronicle story is here
Defenders of Wildlife press release here and lots more in the “Related Information” sidebar