Reliably Austin
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Federal Wildlife Refuges Are 'Low-Hanging Fruit' For Border Wall Construction

Mike Fisher/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
An ocelot at the Houston Zoo. Ocelots are one of the species that could be affected if the Trump administration begins wall construction in U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuges along the southern border.

From Texas Standard:

The National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas, is well-known for its fight against President Donald Trump's border wall. The government had planned to build the wall along the habitat, which is a sensitive space for butterflies that are important pollinators. But that's not the only environmentally sensitive area along the border that could be affected by wall construction.

NPR's Southwest correspondent, John Burnett, says some conservationists are troubled by how the Trump administration is trying to build through a series of federal wildlife refuges in South Texas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service spent about $80 million on 135 properties that serve as nature refuges along approximately 300 miles of the southern border.

"They've assembled what they call a 'string of pearls' as a corridor for wildlife," Burnett says.

That wildlife includes bobcats, deer, ocelots and other animals that use the Rio Grande as a source of water and more.

But the Rio Grande is also the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

The U. S. Department of Homeland Security has deemed the wildlife refuges an easier option than trying to buy land from private landowners.

"They're planning to build through 18 miles of this wildlife refuge ... that [the federal government] had set aside for decades for the wild critters down there," Burnett says.

Written by Caroline Covington.

Rhonda joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?” She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio.
Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
Related Content