Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge—Border Wall Through the Refuge?


Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas | USFWS
Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Texas | USFWS


  • The Trump Administration has secretly been planning on building a wall through this border refuge, which sits on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande River
  • The Army Corps of Engineers has been taking soil samples at the refuge in preparation to build the wall.
  • We have seen information leak out that a wall would cut the refuge down the middle, leaving the visitor’s center on one side and the refuge on the other. It appears that the wall would likely be built outside of the flood plain. Practically speaking, this means that when the river floods, which is does every spring, the flood waters would come up to the wall, leaving wildlife trapped.
  • The Santa Ana NWR is known worldwide as a birding destination. The refuge sits at a critical place geographically—many songbirds that migrate north from Central and South America go no further north than the refuge, and thus this is a prime place to see birds that don’t exist anywhere else in the United States.
  • Two endangered cat species still prowl the thick forests of this small refuge: the ocelot and jaguarondi.
  • If the “wall” consists of a mixture of levees and an actual fence, then this habitat would be changed forever. Levees block water flow and by definition alter the landscape. A fence would reduce the size of the habitat, particularly for land-based animals, who can’t fly over a barrier.


  • Will the federal government and Administration abide by bedrock environmental laws or will they disregard it for by employing legal loopholes? The federal government can bypass environmental regulations (NEPA, ESA, etc.) via the REAL ID Act of 2005, which authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to waive compliance with all environmental laws in order to build border barriers. It also prevents federal courts from hearing claims against the waiver unless the claims can show the waiver is unconstitutional. Will the border wall be built unchallenged?
  • Where would the wall go? Would it run along the river? Through the refuge?
  • Which stakeholders have been able to provide input? The federal government seems to be moving forward with a wall on this wildlife refuge without asking for input from the very people who own this land—YOU, the American taxpayer and public land owner.

Stop a Border Fence from Cutting Through Santa Ana NWR! Take Action Today! 

Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2017/07/santa-ana-national-wildlife-refuge-border-wall-through-the-refuge/


  1. Marie Shoup says:

    This cannot happen – the Santa Anna Refuge is part of the ecosystem of the Rio Grande Valley – it is a refuge for wildlife and birds. It is a vital part of the economy bringing many dollars and visitors to the area. The notion that the wall has a purpose is hypothetical – the REFUGE is a real, necessary entity. Stop the Wall.

  2. Mary Smythe says:

    The environmental devastation from this proposed wall is unthinkable and unbearable.

  3. Linda Cooper says:

    I am heartbroken over this short-sighted decision. Drugs are the big elephant in the room and until the US demand for drugs is curtailed NOTHING will stop the drugs from entering the US. Once more we are ceding US soil to Mexico by building the wall well inside US boundaries.

  4. Allison Hilf says:

    Santa Ana is to be cherished by ALL; not destroyed by one idiot.

  5. Jo-Ann Moore says:

    I don’t think we can stop them from building this wall. I have looked at the area on the eBird map. It definitely has a great variety of birds.
    If the rest of the border has a wall, which it will, then leaving this area open will make it a major traffic area. I have been to the border in Arizona and seen the enormous piles of trash at pic up points and plastic water bottles everywhere. There is also human waste and prescription drugs. There would also be border patrol vehicles running all over it.
    In Arizona there is a National Park right on the border. People can enter the park and just keep traveling north. Some park rangers and visitors have been shot there by drug runners. They also have the problem of trash.
    I think the answer is to put the fence along the river, or as close as possible, and make it pourous enough for birds and reptiles and water to pass through. Personally, I don’t like the wall of rusty steel panels. The Israel fence would work very well.
    I think lobbying for the location and type of fence would be more productive.

  6. Karen Hotopp says:

    Texas is my homeland, and I’m heartbroken to see the state treated like this. This will devastate a world-famous wildlife destination, but won’t protect the state or the country. Texas will lose valuable tourism dollars, all for nothing.

    1. JD Meyer says:

      Eco-tourism is a major part of the economy. Look at Costa Rica; that’s a major part of their success.

  7. JD Meyer says:

    Why can’t President 45 repair infrastructure instead of ruining the Rio Grande Valley? That doesn’t mean toll roads and destroying Amtrak. Net migration has been zero for years.Coastlines are eroding throughout the country; a military base in Virginia is in danger.

  8. Dina m. Verduzco says:

    To keep natural beauty

  9. paula diaz says:

    stop the wall. PERIOD!!!!

  10. J. Lyle says:

    45 could fund this all by himself just like he funded his campaign.

  11. Jane Furey says:

    The Trump Administration is planning on building part of the wall straight through the Santa Ana NWR in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. This would destroy much of the habitat, block water flow, and further endanger already endangered animals such as the ocelot. And, of course, it would be detrimental for bird migration, being such an important stopover for so many of them.

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