A 2,000 acre wildlife area known as the “crown jewel” of the national refuge system is about to be gutted as Trump begins construction on his border wall. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has been quietly preparing to build the 18-foot tall border wall in the Santa Ana National Refuge in southern Texas, according to an anonymous official. The refuge is home to 400 bird species and hundreds of animals, including the endangered ocelot – but if the wall is constructed as planned, it will decimate the sanctuary.

UCB has been working quietly under the radar to start the project. One official, however, felt that the project shouldn’t start without public input. “This should be public information,” the official told the Texas Observer. “There shouldn’t be government officials meeting in secret just so they don’t have to deal with the backlash. The public has the right to know about these plans.”

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The Department of Homeland Security picked the refuge as the place to start the border wall because it is already owned by the federal government, so there is no conflict with private land owners to worry about. This week, workers have been drilling to extract soil samples in order to prepare for construction, would could begin in January.

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The wall will be 18-feet-tall and 3-miles-long through the refuge. In order to accommodate a road along the south of the wall, along with light and surveillance towers, the refuge land will be cleared, devastating all fauna and flora.

“Republicans are making a grave mistake supporting Trump’s bizarre fantasy of a border wall,” said Brian Segee, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Throwing billions of dollars at the border wall boondoggle and demolishing an iconic wildlife refuge won’t make our country safer. But it will be a disaster for people and communities, and tragically sacrifice the fragile borderlands environment and endangered species like jaguars and ocelots.”

Via the Texas Observer

images via the US Fish and Wildlife Service