Thousands of Conservative Texas ranchers and landowners may have voted for President Trump but they just announced that they are adamantly opposed to his planned border wall.
The Texas Wildlife Association (TWA), representing about 10,000 members, who manage 40 million acres of ranches and hunting leases, says they support efforts to stop illegal immigration but the Trump plan makes no sense as presented.
“We just see so many problems,” TWA Chief Executive David Yeates told the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.
Those include years of legal battles over the use of eminent domain to take ownership of the privately held land; interrupting access to water from the Rio Grande River for landowners, their livestock, and wildlife including black bears, mountain lions, deer, bighorn sheep; destroying the scenic beauty of nature in many places; and doing other damage to the environment.
The group says a portion of the wall will be constructed as much as one mile inside the Texas border to save on construction costs which could leave homes, ranches, golf courses, nature preserves and wild animals without access to water. Some homes would be outside the border gate.
“If you take away access to the Rio Grande,” added Yates, “you take away the water for 50,000 acres of irrigated farmland, not to mention the drinking water for cattle and migratory path for wildlife.”
The group is also offended by what they see as the stupidity of the plans for Trump’s wall along the Mexican border. For instance, the Big Ben National Park, which has over 801,000 acres, represents about 1,000 miles of the Southern border, in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. It is sparsely populated and is the home of hundreds of specials of birds, reptiles, and animals, many protected by law.
“We’ve got a big, beautiful barrier, bigger than anything even Trump could build,” Todd Beckett, Republican Party chairman for Presidio County, told the Austin American-Statesman, adding: “There is not going to be a wall in Big Bend.”
“Only a president from New York could think we need to spend public money building a 30-foot-high wall where nature already built a 1,000-foot-high mountain canyon,” explains the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram.
Scott Nicol, a coordinator for the Sierra Club, said the biggest problem is going to be the eminent domain issue. He says there are about 110 miles of the 1,200-mile border private owned, and predicts, “Land condemnation suits will take years.”
“The wrong way to think about the wall is whether it’s tactical or rational,” said Nicol. “It’s entirely about politics and money: Politicians want a mile count. They don’t care if its works – and contractors just want the money.”
“We feel that the border needs to be kept secure via technology and manpower, not a wall,” says Lynne Weber, who with her husband is author of “Nature Watch Big Bend: A Seasonal Guilde.”
“The construction of a wall,” adds Weber, “would disrupt the very fragile desert ecocystem, one that is still recovering from ranching and overgrazing almost 100 years ago.”
The opposition of these Texans, who should be Trump’s natural allies, foreshadows many problems, higher costs, long delays and more political battles if Trump continues to demand the wall.
So far, Trump seems tone deaf to all of what they have to say.