US/Mexico Border Wall and Impacts on Rangeland

This spring, I am teaching the Santa Rosa Junior College Rangeland Management class.  This is my opportunity to educate aspiring students on the importance of rangelands and how to manage them. Their educational experiences include classroom lectures and field trips, learning about rangeland principles and then practice application.

Students are also required to give their impressions of what they are learning in the form of a blog. This blog was written by student Dani Danielsson Bidia.  Stephanie Larson

Sable Palm, Mexican wolf, jaguar, ocelot, Quino Checkerspot Butterfly, Arroyo Toad, Peninsualr Bighorn Sheetp, Ferruginous Pygmy owl
The border between the United States and Mexico stretches for nearly 2,000 miles. In some parts, Rio Grande River serves as a natural barrier between the US and Mexico. Construction of the border wall will have direct and indirect effects on wildlife, agriculture and the rangelands that occur within 50 miles of the border. This will affect roughly 2,135,000 acres along the US and Mexican border.

The state of Texas has a long tradition of private property rights. Many privately owned ranches are home to Rio Grande River. These families have used their ranches for agriculture for centuries. Over the last decade and a half farmers, ranchers and property owners along the border have had threats looming of government officials constructing a stronger barrier through their ranches. Farmers and ranchers face concerns that building a stronger barrier will cut them off from acreage, water and disrupt movement of wildlife. Farmers and ranchers depend on water from the Rio Grande to irrigate crops and water livestock. Ranch owners also depend on water access for recreational use, such as fishing for Catfish and Alligator Gar; and rely on wildlife for fire risk reduction.

Studies conducted on areas where there is already a border wall in place, such as the analysis co-authored by Stanford biologists, Paul Ehrlich and Rodolfo Dirzo have shown negative effects on the environment and wildlife. The wall has prevented natural wildlife migration. Thus creating hardships for animals when in search of water, food and mates. Migration of wildlife is not only important to the existence of wildlife but to maintain a healthy ecosystem and is critical in reducing wild fire risk. Plant species such as the last surviving Sabal Palm Trees in Southern Texas are also at risk.
Sixty-two threatened, endangered and candidate animal species would be potentially threatened by the implementation of a stronger barrier. These species include Mexican Gray Wolves, Jaguars, Ocelots and Quino Checkerspot Butterflies. Of these sixty-two species, twenty-five of them will have their critical habitats degraded or destroyed. Among the species with potential for critically degraded and destroyed habitats would be Jaguars, Arroyo Toad and Peninsular Bighorn Sheep. Low flying birds, such as the Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owl will also be isolated on one side of the border or the other.

As outlined here, there are far reaching consequences for the roughly 2,135,000 acres within 50 miles along our southern border that will affect rangelands, agriculture and ecosystems if a stronger barrier is built.


Website Title: National Geographic
Article Title: 6 ways the border wall could disrupt the environment
Date Published January 10, 2019
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: UANews
Article Title: Border Fence Blocks Wildlife Movement, UA Study Finds
Date Published February 19, 2018
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: Newsweek
Article Title: The environmental impact of the U.S.-Mexico border wall
Date Published May 22, 2016
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: American Rivers
Article Title: Lower Rio Grande (Rio Bravo) [TX]
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: OUP Academic
Article Title: Nature Divided, Scientists United: US–Mexico Border Wall Threatens Biodiversity and Binational Conservation
Date Published July 24, 2018
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: Woods Institute for the Environment
Article Title: New study examines effects of border wall on wildlife
Date Published August 02, 2018
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: The Washington Post
Article Title: Trump's border wall threatens to end Texas family's 250 years of ranching on Rio Grande
Date Published September 08, 2018
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: Los Angeles Times
Article Title: Trump promised a border wall. Now these Texans worry the government will take their land
Date Published April 07, 2017
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

Website Title: The New York Times
Article Title: Why a Border Wall Could Mean Trouble for Wildlife
Date Published January 24, 2019
Date Accessed April 09, 2019

By Dani Danielsson Bidia
Student Author
By Stephanie Larson
Livestock & Range Management Advisor and SRJC Adjunct Faculty - County Director and Livestock Range Management Advisor
By Karen Giovannini
Editor - Agriculture Ombudsman