'Jewel' of wildlife refuge system in path of Trump's border wall

Reports of the first phase of the Trump-era border wall construction have surfaced with the South Texas Rio Grande Valley as the primary location.

ALAMO, TEXAS – Reports of the first phase of the Trump-era border wall construction have surfaced with the South Texas Rio Grande Valley as the primary location.

This is not part of the President's final design, but some officials and environmentalists are already deeply concerned.

The Santa Ana national wildlife refuge is known as the jewel of the wildlife refuge system by those who visit like Christina Fischer, one of Santa Ana’s newest advocates.

“I’m going through a lot in my life right now, but when I came here on Friday, you can get your head right here, it’s peaceful, it’s quiet,” Fischer said.

Two thousand acres home to more than 400 bird and plant species, that according to a report by the Texas Observer, could soon see a border wall cut through the northern side of the refuge.

“Something I finally love and they’re building a wall right through it,” Fischer said disappointingly.

The report quoted an unnamed Customs official. Customs and Border Protection has told local media on the record that preliminary soil samples are being taken at the Santa Ana refuge before a wall can be built. 

CBP said in a statement that the Department of Homeland Security has prioritized 28 miles of new levee wall system and 32 new miles of border wall system in the Rio Grande Valley.

According to the Texas Observer, the type of wall that will be built through the wildlife refuge is a concrete levee structure topped with a steel fence.

“That’s not something we’re hoping will happen,” Hidalgo County Judge Ramon Garcia said.

Garcia is familiar with levee walls. A current version can be found in the neighboring city of Hidalgo. The county couldn’t stop that wall, and won’t stop a new wall since it’s on federal land.

“I guess if you’re comparing both of them there would be a slight benefit in the sense that it would be part of a comprehensive drainage plan for the county,” Garcia said.

However, environmentalists like Stephanie Herweck don’t see any benefits. She and others protested the idea over the weekend, collecting 500 petitions for Texas senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

“Humans are able to scale the wall very, very quickly, within seconds,” Herweck said. However, terrestrial animals are not able to get through an 18’ concrete wall.”

The Trump administration has requested $1.6 billion of available funds to be appropriated for the 2018 fiscal year towards border security. Hearings to approve such budget are set to take place Tuesday.

 

 

© 2017 KENS-TV


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