Trump's border wall will cut through a major wildlife refuge

The first three miles of President Trump's border wall will cut straight through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a major Texas conservation site, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently told Texas environmental nonprofits.
By Kara Menard | Aug 03, 2017
The first three miles of President Trump's border wall will cut straight through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, a major Texas conservation site, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently told Texas environmental nonprofits. The agency said that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has quietly solidified the plans and obtained the money from Congress to start construction in November.

"I was alarmed," said Jim Chapman of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, one of the nonprofits. "It was not good news."

The conservation organizations also said that progress toward construction is taking place faster than expected. While the CBP has reportedly been planning this route for the last six months, Congress had not yet approved CBP's budget, so there was officially no funding and therefore no plans to start construction until January 2018 at the earliest.

The CBP moved the process forward on its own, however, by more recently opting to shift funds from its current budget toward the new wall. CBP informed Fish and Wildlife of this decision only last week, and the environmental agency in turn passed the news on to Chapman's group.

The route would do significant environmental damage, Chapman warned. Santa Ana's 2,088-acre landscape is home to more than 400 species of birds and two endangered wildcat speciesthe ocelot and jaguarondi. It also has some of the last living sabal palm trees in southern Texas.

Construction in an area with this many threatened plant and animal species would usually receive close federal scrutiny before any labor begins. But Chapman noted that a 2005 law gives the Department of Homeland Security the prerogative to waive environmental regulations for a project if it can claim to have national-security interests.

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