An anonymous official revealed two weeks ago that Trump intends to decimate the “crown jewel” of the national refuge system in order to build his border wall. Now, the Department of Homeland Security has announced it would disregard dozens of environmental rules in order to rush construction, which could start as soon as January. Workers have already been on site to prepare for building.
The government is allowed to waive environmental requirements in order to build infrastructure, including skirting the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act. In order to avoid dealing with private land owners, Trump’s wall is slated to start in the Santa Ana refuge, and while building in any refuge would be awful for the environment, the Sant Ana refuge is particularly devastating because it is home to the endangered ocelot, jaguar and jaguarondi. It is also one of the most cherished bird refuges in the US. “The lower Rio Grande is a national treasure for birds,” said Michael J. Parr, President of American Bird Conservancy.
Funding for the wall has already been approved by the House and now it is heading to the Senate for approval. It includes a provision for rebuilding the wall in San Diego, which was built just a decade ago. “Replacing the San Diego border wall only a decade after it was built shows that the border wall has always been stupid, ineffective and incredibly expensive,” Brian Segee, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity said. “Trump’s border wall would compound this travesty by dividing and destroying more communities, wildlife and wild places.” Meanwhile, one of the most incredible bird watching refuges in the US stands to be split in half by the wall unless the Senate is convinced to kill funding.