By: Mark Wilson, TAS Board Member
At a recent public hearing in Mission, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission confirmed that the planned border wall/fence project through Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park and World Birding Center could result in closure of this important Lower Rio Grande Valley bird sanctuary. The construction, funded and slated to begin next February, will result in over 15 miles of new wall through numerous wildlife preserves and corridors, including Bentsen, the National Butterfly Center and tracts of the LRGV National Wildlife Refuge. The 18 foot wall will be flanked by a 300 foot wide ‘no-go’ zone of bare earth through the preserves. This construction will pass directly through the habitat where birders from around the country have had the chance to view a recent Roadside Hawk, a rare visitor to the United States.
TPWD Chairman Duggins confirmed the department has been communicating with the Department of Homeland Security to find alternatives to a wall structure, but with no success. He asked all concerned citizens to contact our Senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, along with Governor Abbott, and ask for their help.
The Travis Audubon Advocacy Committee made a brief presentation at the above TPWD Commission hearing, assuring TPWD of our support. In addition, we recently delivered over 25 letters, signed by members, to Governor Abbott and both our Texas Senators, asking them to help stop this destructive and unneeded project.
Please consider taking a few minutes and calling Governor Abbott and Senators Cruz and Cornyn, asking for their help. You may speak to a staff member or can leave a recorded message. Here is some helpful information:
Senator John Cornyn 202-224-2934
Senator Ted Cruz 202-224-5922
Governor Greg Abbott 512-463-2000
Suggested message: “Hello, my name is (state name) and I am your constituent from (city/town). I urge you to stop the expansion of border wall in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The wall will result in damage and possible closure to over 6500 acres of state and county parks and national wildlife refuges. Texas Parks & Wildlife has stated that this project will likely result in the closure of Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park.” (add your own personal comments).
Photo Credit: Jan Dauphin