Photo caption: Snapshot from one of my trips to the Rio Grande — Big Bend National Park hot springs with with wild mustangs on the Mexican bank.
We knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Trespassing on private soil, our own Army Corps of Engineers (ACoE) have begun clearing areas for the border wall. Rather than steal land legally through eminent domain, they have arrived without permission or notification. Instead of cutting through ranchland, they have begun where it will hurt the most — nature preserves. The first location to fall beneath the saw, machete, and blade is a strip through the National Butterfly Center. Scientists had purchased the area from farmers and restored it with plant species vital to the survival of the threatened monarch butterfly. Now, only brown stubble remains. The wall will block the migration of thousands of land-based animals, cutting their territory in two.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says the region contains “a few remaining wild tropical cats like ocelots and jaguarundis. Ferruginous Pygmy-owl, Green jay, Elf Owl, Texas tortoise, Indigo snake and Mexican burrowing toad are also found in this region. Rare plants, especially in the cactus family like Albert’s black lace cactus, star cactus and Runyon’s cory cactus” still remain in the area, but “today, most of the region has been bulldozed, plowed or otherwise fallen victim to urbanization.” Invaders from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the ACoE will now take away a large piece of the remaining wildlife habitat and sever migration lanes vital to the survival of these rare species.
To those who care nothing for plants or animals, this remains an egregious violation of property rights. Rather than follow legal channels, submitting the work to the Department of Justice, obtaining clearance, and providing notification to property owners, they have followed the plan of oil and gas developers throughout the country: build first, then settle the illegal construction in court. Sure there are lawsuits, payouts, and a protracted battle, but just as with pipelines such as the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access Pipeline, the damage is done. There is no going back.
Soon the crews will move into neighboring Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge. The plans have been secretly assembled and will be implemented suddenly, without warning, to avoid an uprising like the one at Standing Rock. Congress has backed the venture with $20 million from taxpayers, so we are all responsible.
See also: Update: ACoE Invades South Texas
We can stop this if we elect environmentally conscious representatives to congress, especially in Texas. Please go to Vote Adam Bell U.S Congress House of Representatives Texas District 3 and click the link to DONATE.
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