Published: Sun, September 10, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

Newsela | A wall on the border is a recipe for an ecological disaster, say conservationists

BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas - Big Bend National Park is home to the American part of the Chihuahua Desert, located in the Southwest of the United States.

It was first the land of the Chios Indians. Many other groups, one after another, took over the area until finally the white settlers arrived with their new rifles and reclaimed the land.

In total, six different groups have claimed the land that makes up the National Park Big Bend, but the dry ground of chihuahuese limestone makes it difficult to live there. The Spaniards called it "The Despoblado", or the uninhabited land. For most of its history, the 800,000 acres belonged to nature.

Now, many here are concerned, because there is talk of building a wall to limit the movement of people across the border between the The United States and Mexico. If the wall extends to this remote national park, it would form a permanent division along the Rio Grande.

They fear that there is damage to the environment

No one knows how much such a wall would extend Beyond the cities, but some people here are already worried. Conservationists, who work to protect ecosystems and wildlife habitats, are particularly concerned. Their main fear is that such a barrier would threaten the slow but steady reintroduction of wildlife species. Many of these animals were eliminated almost 200 years ago. Its reintroduction is one of the most important environmental achievements of the Southwest of the United States.

"It would completely ruin the experience of one of the most beautiful natural sites remaining in this country," said Rick LoBello, Big Bend Park. He is now the director of the Greater Big Bend Coalition conservation group.

Desert is created by a "rain shadow" effect between two mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre Occidental and the Sierra Madre Oriental. The high mountains prevent the passage of rain clouds over the area, so that little water falls in the desert. It was once the home of a wide variety of animals, sheltering species from roebuck to gray wolves.

Livestock was not kind to the land

Eastern settlers The United States claimed this land first for the Republic of Texas. It then became part of the United States, and they held the area for more than half a century. Ranchers grazed their livestock in a fragile ecosystem that crumbled under the needs of livestock.

Grass was planted on native shrubs, destroying the smallest animals that were the food of the animals they were The natural hunters of the area. Plants that were important for several species to survive were unearthed acre by acre. Bats were ejected from the caves, and bears, jaguars and wolves were shot when they were spotted.

Biomes | ASU - Ask A Biologist
Do these groups seem to be different enough to be classified in a separate biome? Do not worry, there is no right or wrong answer. The natural world is more varied than we can imagine, and the separation of similar groups can help us better define what we see.

Then the great drought of the years of the Bowl of Dust in the 1930s led many farmers to Financial ruin. On June 6, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the document declaring the existence of Big Bend National Park.

The Mexican Black Bear is thriving again

The Mexican Black Bear Was eliminated during the era of livestock. The bears had largely disappeared on the American side of the border during the 1940s, being wiped off the map by hunting and poisoning.

In 1999, there were 343 bear sightings on the American side of the river. "The recolonization of black bears in Big Bend is a remarkable natural event," the park service reports on its website today.

What if open bear habitat For its resurgence, would be divided by a wall?

The answer, say wildlife advocates and park officials, will depend on the location and construction of the wall. > Location is key

Placing the wall on the border itself would be difficult. According to the original agreement reached between Mexico and the United States at the end of the Mexican-American War, the border extends to the deepest part of the Rio Grande Canal. "I can not even begin to predict what the Impact without knowing the details of the wall, "said Jeanette Juraldo, a ranger in Big Bend National Park.

One possible concern, Juraldo said, would be what happens to plants along the river Large.

"If it were located on or along the river, there are certainly several plant species that would be affected," he said. As for the bears, said Juraldo, it is clear that a physical barrier would avoid mating between the two groups that would be kept apart. The two separate groups would begin to practice inbreeding, or crossing each other, which would lead to genetic disorders and weaken the health of the offspring.

It is more than a wall for people

Problems could extend beyond a physical barrier, LoBello said. The vegetation that is in the way of the construction probably would be eliminated. This would reduce the sources of food available to the dozens of protected and endangered species. One of these species is the long-necked bat, which depends on the dense nectar of the agave plants.

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