Trump Administration Preparing Texas Wildlife Refuge for First Border Wall Segment

Update: A mass hike and tour of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is taking place on Sunday August 13 to protest the Trump administration’s plan to cut off this wonderful wildland with a border wall! More details here. If you are interested in traveling to the march with Travis Audubon, please contact Jordan Price, membership@travisaudubon.org.

Home to at least 400 bird species, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is one of the top birding destinations in North America. The refuge is home to the rare Sabal Palm, Texas ocelots, Gulf Coast jacuarundi, and almost half of all butterfly species found in the United States. Federal officials have selected the refuge, located ten miles southeast of McAllen, as ground zero for the first segment of the coast to coast border wall with Mexico. Established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is positioned along the east-west and north-south juncture of two major bird migratory routes.

For at least six months, private contractors and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have been quietly preparing to build the first piece of the border wall, in the form of a levee, through this critically important wildlife refuge in South Texas. The federally owned 2,088-acre refuge, called the “crown jewel of the national wildlife refuge system” by US Fish and Wildlife Service, could see levee construction begin as early as January 2018, according to a federal official who has been involved in the planning but asked to remain anonymous.

Earlier this month, the House Appropriations Committee approved $1.6 billion to be allocated toward construction of the southern border wall. The proposed border wall plans for the wildlife refuge call for building a road south of the wall and clearing refuge land on either side of the wall for surveillance, cameras and light towers.

Congressman Filemon Vela, from Brownsville, told the Observer,  “We’re going to come up with a plan and do everything we can to stop it. These refuges are sacred from an environmental standpoint. There’s so little protected land left and we need to do whatever we can to save it.”
Travis Audubon urges its members to call their Congressional representatives, Senators, and other federal officials to let them know that Texas wildlife deserves freedom. 

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