IN FOCUS: National Conservation Organization Says Proposed Border Wall Would Hurt Ecosystems

Jul 21, 2017

President Trump’s executive actions aiming to enhance border security along with constructing a border wall has drawn criticism from environmental groups who say they are concerned about the impact a wall would have on ecosystems along the border.

On a recent taped episode of KRWG-TV’s In Focus, Michael Dax, a national outreach representative with Defenders of Wildlife, a national conservation organization says that there are three main ecosystems that his organization is concerned about along the border, they are coastal California, Sky Islands (mountains), and the Rio Grande Delta.

“I think a lot of people think of the border as being this dusty place, but when we get down to Texas, we’re talking about these rich riparian areas that support not only fish, but also birds, reptiles, things like that,” says Dax.

Dax says that there are desert ecosystems here in New Mexico, that he says need protection for endangered species that he says migrate through the border region. 

“Two of the ones we’re most concerned about are jaguars and Mexican wolves,” says Dax.

Dax says a wall would impact the breeding of the Mexican gray wolves, which he says are important to the ecosystem along the border.

“Wolves are ecosystem engineers, they are top predators,” says Dax. He says that there has been research over the last few years that has focused on the impact of wolves have had on places like Yellowstone National Park. Dax says along the border in the southwest wolves can force elk populations to disperse to different areas.

“We have these big elk populations that are able to just sit down in the valleys, munch down all the riparian vegetation and there is nothing out there threatening them,” says Dax.

Dax says that vegetation helps stabilize streambanks, provide habitat for birds, trees for beavers which leads to them constructing dams that provide better habitats for fish and frogs and other amphibians along the borderlands.