For Immediate Release, June 7, 2007
Greta Anderson, Conservation Advocate, (520) 623-5252 x 314
Melissa Waage, Legislative Director, (202) 736-5760
Grijalva’s Border Bill Good for Wildlife and Public Lands
TUCSON, Ariz.– Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) introduced a bill Wednesday that would help protect the unique and fragile ecological features of the United States-Mexico borderlands. Conservation groups, long concerned with the environmental devastation a double-layered wall would cause to wildlife along the border, applauded the measure.
“Until now, there was no recognition that ‘homeland security’ also meant securing the ecological integrity of our natural areas for future generations,” said Greta Anderson, conservation advocate with the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson. “This bill provides the Department of Homeland Security with the discretion to make appropriate enforcement decisions on a site-specific basis, rather than a blanket mandate to build the wall.”
The bill proposes to use limited infrastructure, including vehicle barriers instead of walls, on all federal lands along the border. This will help maintain the connectivity of wildlife habitats across the border and aid in the recovery of endangered species, including the jaguar, which has been coming back into the United States from Mexico in recent years.
“Representative Grijalva’s bill is an encouraging move toward a sensible border policy that combines security with respect for our southwestern borderland resources,” said Melissa Waage, the Center’s legislative director.
The bill also seeks to establish environmental and cultural resource training for all Border Patrol agents, which should help to limit the damage caused by law-enforcement activities in remote areas. Many agents are new to the Southwest and unaware of the effects off-road driving has on desert soils, plants, animals, and artifacts. Training them to be sensitive to the irreplaceable biological and cultural treasures of the desert will help limit the damage to these resources.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national nonprofit conservation organization with more than 35,000 members dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild places. Additional information about the legislation and species affected by border infrastructure projects can be found at: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/swcbd/programs/blbw/index.html