“Serious, Likely Irreparable” Damage from Border Wall

Government records obtained by American Oversight show that officials at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have concerns about the potential environmental impact of President Trump’s proposed all along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The documents – which are part of an internal USFWS analysis related to the Secure Fence Act of 2006 – include an internal analysis which found that a border wall would cause “serious, and likely irreparable” damage to wildlife refuges in the Rio Grande Valley.

The analysis describes how a border wall and stepped up enforcement activity could affect 60-70% of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR and could have a significant impact on the Santa Ana NWR. In the process, the wall would undo more than $80 million in investments by the USFWS over 35 years to stabilize the ecosystems.

While the wildlife refuges were largely untouched by the Bush-era program, a 2017 email from the manager of the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR notes that “many of the concerns will be the same” with the present plans for a border wall.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has indicated that these sections of the border wall will be among the first constructed.

American Oversight submitted a FOIA request to USFWS on April 27th for documents detailing the environmental impact of the proposed border wall as part of its Audit the Wall project.

Statement from American Oversight Executive Director Austin Evers:

“As the Trump administration barrels ahead with the border wall – even threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t fund it – they’ve told the American people shockingly little about how much it will cost, what it will look like, and how it will affect communities along the border. These long-buried documents from inside the government show explicitly that, contrary to the White House’s spin, a border wall will devastate wildlife refuges in the Rio Grande Valley and undo tens of millions of dollars of investments in protecting vulnerable habitats.”

Part of Investigation:

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