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The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act is Waived for Border Wall

Water. The lifeblood of the Sonoran Desert. Because the Sonoran Desert is teeming with life (unlike many of the world’s deserts), sources of clean, fresh water are crucial to all of its plant and animal inhabitants. Sonoran Desert creatures don’t need a lot of water, but they do need some, and they need to know where to find it. There are no backups if the desert’s few sources of fresh water are polluted, filled in, or diverted.

Congress passed the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA) in 1934 to protect sources of fresh water on federal lands. The FWCA requires that before sources of fresh water on federal land are “impounded, channeled, or otherwise altered,” federal agencies must be consulted to ascertain that the proposed project will not negatively impact fish and wildlife. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and various state wildlife agencies all must weigh in before undertaking any project that might alter sources of fresh water. Both the potential impact on the body of water itself (domestic sewage or other pollutants) and the potential effect on wildlife (diversion or pollution of drinking water, for example), have to be taken into consideration. This is the first time a law required that wildlife conservation and rehabilitation issues be built into resource development programs.

The FWCA has been waived to expedite the construction of a border wall (click here for a list of all 48 laws that have been waived). How will that impact the inhabitants of the Sonoran Desert? The San Pedro River is the last permanently flowing river in the Sonoran Desert. Our photo shows that a barrier has already been placed into the San Pedro River. Because FWCA has been waived, no one needs to asses or even pay attention to the effect of this barrier on the fish and wildlife that depend on the San Pedro. If the Department of Homeland Security decides to erect more structures in or across the river, or dumps waste materials from wall construction into it, the effect on wildlife no longer matters.

Please contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives ( and let them know that you oppose waiving The Fish and Wildlife Coordination 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.

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