In the mid 1800’s explorers and journalists began to notice and write about the rampant slaughter of wildlife in the United States. Wading birds, like egrets, were killed for the decorative value of their showy plumes. Other species were killed in great numbers for food, fashion or commerce. By 1901, the American bison was nearly extinct and the last passenger pigeon, a once abundant species, had been shot.
President Teddy Roosevelt was a great lover of the outdoors and wildlife, so he began setting aside parcels of land, by executive order, to protect wildlife. By 1909, Roosevelt had protected 51 units of land in 17 states. But something more was needed to protect the wildlife refuges once they were established.
In 1966, The National Wildlife Refuge System Act (NWRSAA) was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Carter. The purpose of the NWRSAA was to provide direction for administering and managing all parts of national wildlife refuge systems, including areas specified for the protection and conservation of threatened or endangered species, wildlife ranges, game ranges, wildlife management areas, and waterfowl production areas.
The Sonoran Desert is home to three National Wildlife Refuges right on the U.S.-Mexico Border. The Buenos Aires refuge was established in 1985 to aid in the recovery of the endangered masked bobwhite quail. The San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in the far southeast corner of Arizona was established in 1982, in part to protect rare wetlands and the native fish and frogs that live in them. And the Cabeza Prieta refuge, the third largest National Wildlife Refuge in the lower 48 states, was created in 1939, after extensive lobbying by the Boy Scouts of America, to protect desert bighorn sheep. Fifty-six miles of the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge are adjacent to the Mexican border.
What are the consequences of waiving the NWRSAA to expedite the building of a border wall? The management plans developed to protect populations of native wildlife no longer apply. Land on the refuge may be dug up, contaminated, or otherwise disturbed. Water sources may be similarly destroyed. And the plants on which the animals depend for food may be damaged or killed without consideration of the needs of wildlife. Click here for a list of all 48 federal laws waived for construction of a border wall.
Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members) and let them know that you oppose waiving The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act to expedite construction of a border wall. Click here if you would like to make a donation to help us fight the border wall.