Monday, April 21, 2008

More on the Border Wall

The Washington Post on Sunday ran a feature on the conservation implications of the border wall, here.

Meanwhile, the reaction from much of the birding community remains a yawn or even - because of the incendiary nature of the immigration debate - active hostility to those on birding forums trying to discuss the impacts of the border barrier. Many have asked, 'Birds can fly, so what's the big deal?'
True, birds can fly over a fence, but that's not what we're talking about here. The border "wall" will actually be two walls, with a cleared, lighted patrol strip between, and cleared land on either side - a devastating loss of habitat, especially in areas like the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where habitat is limited to a narrow corridor along the river...a corridor conservationists (including the federal government) have spent tens of millions of dollars to restore, and the very corridor through which the wall would run.

Wings or no wings, birds need habitat, and the land on the southern side of the border, which will include most of the good riparian forest, will quickly become as degraded and the land currently on the Mexican side of the river. And good luck trying to get access to what used to be prime U.S. wildlife habitat, and which will suddenly require a border and river crossing to visit.

For species like the 70 remaining Sonoran pronghorn antelope, the endangered handful of Texas ocelots, or the newly returned Arizona jaguars, the wall would be a death-knell. Birders, I would hope, should be interested in more than just birds.

More information on fighting the wall can be found here.



On April 28 a Congressional Field Hearing was held in Brownsville, Texas. Titled Walls and Waivers: Expedited Construction of the Southern Border Wall and the Collateral Impacts on Communities and the Environment, it was intended to investigate the impacts that the border wall will have on border communities if it is constructed. Brownsville Diocese Bishop Reymundo Pena, Eagle Pass Mayor Chad Foster, and many other border residents testified, explaining the damage that a border wall would cause to the assembled members of Congress. The committee will continue to accept written testimony until May 16th. This is an important opportunity to inform members of Congress, and to ensure that our voices become part of the official record. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff has announced that since he waived the National Environmental Policy Act there will be no Final Environmental Assessments or Environmental Impact Statements, and it is unclear what will happen to the hundreds of public comments that they received. That makes the comments submitted to members of Congress in connection to the field hearing even more important.

Here are the guidelines for written submissions to the U.S.Congressional field hearing record. They need to be in by Friday, May 16th.

1. Head your comments with the hearing name and date: Walls and Waivers: Expedited Construction of the Southern Border Wall and the Collateral Impacts on Communities and the Environment, April 28, 2008.

2. Do not exceed 10 pages.

3. No cover page is needed, although your name, title, and the organization that you represent (if you have one), should also be stated at the beginning of your testimony.

4. Please use typed single-space letter-size (8½ x 11) white paper.

5. Send via the postal service as they are not equipped to handle mass amounts of e-mail. The mailing address is:
Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands
1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

6. If you submit attachments or exhibits to your testimony please include them as separate items at the end of your testimony. If attachments are more than 10 pages (in addition to your original testimony) or on paper larger than 8½ x 11, we will not accept them for printing. Instead, you should paraphrase or quote as needed. If including charts, tables, maps, or photographs, they should be included on separate pages, not within the text of a page.

7. THINGS TO AVOID: Underlining, footnotes, capitalization of the whole document or solid blocks of text.

Diane said...

Hi Scott
I have been trying to contact you through your email addresses regarding a lecture/presentation. Can you please email me at
Diane Reed
St. Augustine, FL