Santa Ana Gets Reprieve from Border Wall

There will be no border wall dividing the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge anytime soon. But the fight to protect this 2000-acre jewel that is home to nearly 200 species including endangered ocelots is far from over.

Thanks to the efforts of Refuge Association Government Affairs staff and advocates across the country, Congress recently blocked efforts to build a border wall through the refuge by including language specifically prohibiting border fence construction through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in the final Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations bill. While $1.6 billion was included for border wall construction, barriers and technology, language stating that the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge would remain wall-free was slipped into the $1.3 trillion-dollar spending bill that funds the government through September. The language was included in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill and Hill insiders report that the language was pushed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, Nita Lowey (D-NY), and Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Lucille Roybal Allard, (D-CA).

The Refuge Association coordinated efforts in Washington, D.C. and in areas around the refuge, including working with key members of Congress to get the language included in the bill.  By helping to organize grassroots response from refuge supporters across the country and putting boots on the ground during the Rally to Protect Santa Ana, Refuge Association president Geoffrey Haskett lent a powerful voice to the effort.

“Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is an incredible area for wildlife and their habitat that needs to be protected and not bisected by a wall that precludes natural migrations of the animals it was established to protect,” said Geoffrey Haskett, President of the Refuge Association. “This year Congress and the Administration did just that. We have a lot of work still to do to ensure that decision stays in future years. The Refuge Association is very proud of all our supporters and that we all were a very big part of this great decision to protect the Refuge.”

Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, located along the Rio Grande River on the U.S. border with Mexico in south Texas, is one of the most ecologically important areas in the nation and unfortunately is at the forefront of the Trump Administration’s proposed expansion of the border wall. The Army Corps of Engineers, Customs and Border Control, and private contractors have been working in secrecy for months on the refuge in preparation for building the wall. Only within the past two weeks has the public learned of the Administration’s plans.

Unfortunately, the language in the bill only provided an exclusion for Santa Ana, the nearby Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge, was not included and thus, is still under threat for a border wall.

South Texas along the Lower Rio Grande River has some of the greatest biological diversity of anywhere in the world – mainly because four distinct climates converge here: Subtropical, Temperate, Coastal, and Desert. This, in turn, fuels one of the biggest eco-tourism hotspots on the planet, supporting the economy and thousands of jobs. We remain committed to protecting this unique area and jewels of the Refuge System.


Permanent link to this article: https://www.refugeassociation.org/2018/04/santa-ana-gets-reprieve-from-border-wall/

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