It’s not fear of ballistic missiles from North Korea, nor passage of bathroom laws directly impacting the transgender population. It’s not about police brutality or the exit from the Paris Climate Accord. It is about the destruction of a unique habitat–found nowhere else in the world–and it is important. It’s not making headlines, nor inspiring Facebook likes, but if it’s lost, it won’t return; you can’t repeal the destruction of an extraordinary ecosystem.
I’m referring to the Trump administration’s building of the border wall between the United States and Mexico and how those plans are taking shape. In the past months, work has begun–silently and without public input–to destroy many miles and acres of land, both federally owned and privately owned, to build a wall between us and our southern neighbors.
The plans, as best we know them, will involve destruction of some of the most biologically diverse habitat in the United States. It will negatively impact the flyways of hundreds of species of migratory birds, as well as the migration pathway for the threatened Monarch butterfly. This landscape also provides a home for the endangered Ocelot and Jaguarundi, as well as multitudes of species of mammals, insects, and reptiles.
The Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the National Butterfly Center are in the crosshairs of this controversial wall.
From the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, about Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge:
Established in 1943 for the protection of migratory birds, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge happens to be positioned along an east-west and north-south juncture of two major migratory routes for many species of birds. It is also at the northern-most point for many species whose range extends south into Central and South America. The refuge is right in the middle of all this biological diversity, which is what makes this 2,088 acre parcel the ‘jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System.’ Though small in size, Santa Ana offers visitors an opportunity to see birds, butterflies and many other species not found anywhere else in the United States beyond deep South Texas.
The good folks at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and those working at the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge CANNOT speak on behalf of the biological diversity they are charged with protecting because they are federal employees and subject to dismissal if they speak out about this abomination against the last remaining natural habitat in South Texas.
From the Texas Butterfly Ranch blog: ‘Border wall at National Butterfly Center violates property rights and worse’:
Known as one of the top birding destinations in the world, Santa Ana is being sacrificed precisely because of its federally protected status. Since the U.S. government owns it, they won’t be subjected to pesky lawsuits from private landowners like Marianna Wright and the National Butterfly Center. As another story in the Texas Observer noted in June, a third or more of 320 condemnation suits filed against private landowners to build a wall in 2007 are still unresolved.
Not only is Santa Ana in danger, but the border wall work will also destroy land belonging to the National Butterfly Center, which is privately owned.
From the home page of the National Butterfly Center:
‘Bugs vs. Americans. Bugs lose.’
One short-sighted commentator’s glib response to the situation summarizes part of the ignorance surrounding everything at stake here. This isn’t all about the butterflies.
No permission was requested to enter the property or begin cutting down trees. The center was not notified of any roadwork, nor given the opportunity to review, negotiate or deny the workplan. Same goes for the core sampling of soils on the property, and the surveying and staking of a “clear zone” that will bulldoze 200,000 square feet of habitat for protected species like the Texas Tortoise and Texas Indigo, not to mention about 400 species of birds. The federal government had decided it will do as it pleases with our property, swiftly and secretly, in spite of our property rights and right to due process under the law.
Why should you care?
- If you own property or value your Constitutional right to due process, you should be very concerned about the government doing entering property without permission or due process. Altering it. Destroying it. Coming onto it and killing creatures that live there with reckless indifference. Your home or property could be next.
- If you think the “Border Fence” will stop illegal immigration, you are mistaken. The fence has gates and gaps every mile or so where people can pass through; so the fence is actually a FUNNEL, designed to direct those crossing into our country to areas where Border Patrol agents may more easily monitor and intercept traffic—that is, unless people use ladders or scale the fence on their own, which they do.
- If you pay taxes, you should understand the Border Fence is not a solution to the problem of illegal immigration. It is a waste of tax dollars.
The feds have shelved a variety of environmental and property rights laws in order to build a border wall that most experts believe will do nothing to stop illegal immigration and that many Americans don’t want. Further, the feds are doing this with no public discourse or input. If you don’t care about wildlife, remember that folks from all over the world visit both Santa Ana and the Butterfly Center, and that has a positive and enormous economic impact on this region and that will be permanently lost if these plans go through.
If you want a say in this matter, please download, print, sign and mail this letter to Colonel Paul E. Owens of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southwestern Division.
If the Trump administration has its way, this unique and valuable habitat will be forever destroyed–at the taxpayers’ expense. As well, this wall will do nothing to protect Americans. Below is more information about what is happening at the border.
From Texas Monthly: ‘Butterflies Versus Border Patrol’:
Mission, Texas was well on its way to establishing itself as the butterfly capital of America. In 2002, the North American Butterfly Association founded the National Butterfly Center on a former onion farm near Mission. The one-hundred-acre nature preserve features one of the largest native plant botanical gardens in the country, including hundreds of host plants that attract butterflies. The town embraced its new attraction. Every fall, during the annual Monarch migration, the center hosts the Texas Butterfly Festival, which draws thousands of butterfly lovers from around the world to South Texas.
From Texas Observer: ‘National Butterfly Center Founder: Trump’s Border Wall Prep ‘Trampling on Private Property Rights”
“This is a much bigger issue than the National Butterfly Center,” Glassberg told the Observer. “There’s a procedure the government could follow with due process. But they’ve decided — like with so much else — to just ignore the law, trampling on private property rights. The complete disrespect for the legalities of this country is something that ought to concern every American regardless of how they feel about a border wall.”
From the Los Angeles Times: ‘This ‘crown jewel’ of wildlife refuges is one of the world’s top bird destinations. Trump’s wall would end public access’
On Monday, U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat from Brownsville who represents the area of the border including Santa Ana, said he requested a briefing about the wall from Customs and Border Protection officials.
“Clearly, it’s all being done in secret and it’s not transparent at all,” he said. “I can tell you we’re going to fight like hell to stop it.”
“These refuges are national treasures and sacred places, and we have to do everything we can to stop the Trump administration from putting this wall into place,” said Vela, who opposes all border walls in his district, famously telling Trump in an open letter last year: “Mr. Trump, you’re a racist and you can take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”
Can birds fly higher than 10 feet which will be the height of the wall?
It’s not so much about how high, or not, the birds can fly, but that there will be miles and miles, and acres and acres, of native trees, shrubs and plants that will disappear, cut down for clearance. Without native flora, there is no native fauna; no berries, no nectar, no pollen, no cover, no place to nest. Insects, reptiles, mammals all will be negatively impacted. The Rio Grande river will be cut off as a water source for countless types of wildlife.
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I don’t think the wall will ever be built but he’s a bastard of the worst kind to propose it. He is the worst president in history and the next will spend the first 4 years simply undoing all the damage Trump has done. I will send that letter!
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I agree, but some of the wall will be built and once the feds and their contractors destroy the habitat, the likelyhood of it ever returning to its natural state–and there’s only about 4-5% of native habitat left in the Rio Grand valley–the damage will be done. I agree with you. IF we get him and his incompetent, corrupt cronies out of our government within 4 years, we have a chance at recovery, though I think that will take years.
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Outrageous…Thank you not only for the wake-up call but for the pathway to action. I’ve down loaded the letter and will send it tomorrow.
You’re welcome. I hope there’s a run on stamps! 🙂
Thank you for posting this information. I will send that letter as well and am sharing your post on Facebook.
You’re welcome and thanks!
It’s a devastating situation and needless and pointless. Model T only cares about white people and cares nothing about the environment. The wall is his thing” and I personally I don’t see that anyone can stop his intent. It doesn’t matter that threatened or endangered species will be put in peril. He’s going to make it happen and screw all the liberals and anyone else who get in the way of the wall being built. The cost is astronomical but never mind the impact on the environment.
I hope all the folks that voted for Model T are happy. Many have yet to wake up to reality.
Great post. I wish these facts could make it to national TV but that still would not make any difference.
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Well, we certainly are in a pickle. I can’t stop my actions against this administration, though I know my voice isn’t really heard. The only way to get him and his junta out is to support the judiciary (which is currently our only functioning branch of government), to work for local causes, and to rally and write/call when something–whatever it might be–touches.
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I have been following this and sharing on facebook, but you’re right, very few of my friends even acknowledge it or further share it. I think there are so many upsetting things this administration is doing that folks just can’t seem to drum up more anger.
There are so many issues that have so many upset, one has to pick the fight(s) most important on a personal level. The real work is in organizing to get out the vote, both locally (state and city/county) and to vote in the 2018 mid-terms. We have a voice, we have to use it.
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Reblogged this on The Belmont Rooster.
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We all have our opinions about the border wall but few have considered what you are writing about here. GREAT POST. I reblogged and shared it on FB and Twitter.
Thanks for reading and reblogging. The Butterfly Center is trying to get the word out and are active on their FB page.
I know that there is a hike planned next weekend as a form of protest. There have been several articles, those I linked to. Another is this one from The Monitor, which is also interesting: http://www.themonitor.com/opinion/board_of_contributors/article_4669d192-7961-11e7-af37-6fe70df7e6d4.html?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=user-share
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I care. I’ll print and mail the letter you linked.
Thanks and good job!
I have read that the humans are the only thing the atrocious wall WON’T keep out. http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/border-walls-are-good-keeping-out-everything-humans
I live in Canada, so I can only watch in powerless horror as this administration attempts to remove clean air and water protections, defund the Great Lakes restoration project and remove protections for national monuments such as Bears Ears, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument of the coast of New England, among other countless greedy and reckless decisions. Thank you to all those writing letters, calling your politicians and staying strong!
Yes, that sounds about right. This dumb attempt will not slow, nor stop immigration from the south and many (most?) Americans living along the border don’t even want the wall. Here in Texas, many businesses will be hurt by the lack of workers–but that’s a whole other thing. All I can say is that I’m sorry we’re such crappy neighbors and that there are many, MANY who are working tirelessly to end this administration. It will take time.
Tina already knows that I am Spanish and I live in Spain. With my respect, your President seemed to me since you were elected against Nature. First stop again making petroleum projections in Alaska. Then leave the Paris Agreement. Now he tells me that they are already building the Wall that will separate the USA from Mexico: an environmental horror. The only thing I can do from Spain is to publish it on my Facebook. I am so sorry. Greetings from Margarita.
Thanks, Margarita. Yes, I think you’re correct–horror is a good word to use when describing all the things this president and his administration are doing. Still, all we can do is push back at every turn that moves us. Thanks for your support!
Sorry to hear, and I sure hope it’s defeated. Just tweeted this post with a pic of the wall. Thanks for the title, btw. I let out vicious blue streaks every evening when President Buttface appears on the news (and I hit the mute button). So sad that the most disgusting, deplorable public person I’ve ever come across is our president.
Haha! When I’m reading articles/editorials and there’s an accompanying photo of Pres Orange Turd (is that the same as Buttface??), I scroll so that I don’t have to look at him. I hope they’ll back off this boondoggle too. Apparently, Senator Cornyn is visiting the area today, but he’s lock-step with tRump, so I don’t hold much hope of him actually stepping up and representing his constituents along the border. Our two senators (Cruz and Cornyn) are not looking out for Texans–the people kind or the environmental kind.
I thought that the wall was all theoretical still. I had no idea things had started. 😦
Nope, work has begun. There will be lawsuits and protests, but some damage has happened on both public and private property. Trump still has support amongst his base (roughly 30% of voters) but even that is declining and while the Republicans in congress have so far been complicit in his proposals, that too is beginning to crack. Fingers-crossed that the mid-term elections change things around, but there will be damage. As Trump would say: SAD!
Thank you for making me and others aware of this disgusting situation. The wall is an idea that has gained ground because it sounds good to the simple minded and the demagogues who exploit them. Let’s hope the damage can be limited.
You’re welcome–it is appalling. If you’re interested and on FB, the Butterfly Center has a FB page, there’s more information there. There was a successful march and community picnic on Saturday. The Valley region is generally a poor area , but with the Butterfly Center and the Santa Ana refuge, the area brings in about 350 million/year in tourism revenue. So, you’re right–digusting all around.
I’ll check out their FB page.