As the budget battle in Washington D.C. threatens to shut down the government over border wall funding (again), bulldozers in southern Texas may soon raze swaths of the National Butterfly Center as the already-funded portions of wall prepare to rise. The Sierra Club filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in 2017 after surveyors appeared in the Butterfly Center, a 100-acre nature preserve that’s home to rare butterflies, plants, and endangered birds, and workers began clearing land in July of last year. The resultant draft feasibility report from the Army Corps of Engineers released in November of last year painted a grim picture of what would happen if the 33 miles of piecemeal border walls in the Rio Grande Valley were built. The 15 proposed walls, most of which would have a 12-foot-tall concrete base topped with 18-foot-tall steel bollards, would cut through homes, cemeteries, churches, state parks, and the National Butterfly Center. The Corps would also clear a “no man’s land” on the southern side of the wall that would extend out 150 feet, and include 120-foot-tall surveillance towers. Lights, underground motion sensors, and access roads would connect to the barren side. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and two other nonprofit groups had sued the federal government over what they claimed were breaches of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and 25 other federal laws. Unfortunately, the Real ID Act allows the federal government to waive federal laws to expedite border construction projects. And on December 3, the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of the Department of Homeland Security, allowing construction to proceed. If the wall moves ahead as planned, the National Butterfly Center claims that 70 percent of the preserve will be trapped on the southern side of the divider. The Center fears that the wall’s construction will destroy their visitor revenue as well as the butterflies’ habitat, and has started a GoFundMe campaign to cover their legal fees, operational expenses, and possible demolition expenses in case the wall is built and later needs to be removed. Construction in the National Butterfly Center is expected to begin in February.
Posts tagged with "Nature Preserve":
A proposal for a dense forest along the Rockaways shoreline in New York City could boost storm resiliency in the area. Local Office Landscape and Urban Design, led by Walter Meyer and Jennifer Bolstad, has proposed the forest along the Robert Moses roadway in Rockaway, Queens. The so-called “Rockaway East Resiliency Preserve” would turn the storm-weary Rockaways into a blooming, natural location. The Rockaway East Resiliency Preserve is among the projects adding to the more general plan to install structures and natural objects to better protect the city's coastal areas against future storms. Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Shore Front parkway stood between the boardwalk and the rest of the residential areas. The parkway, albeit large and four-lanes wide, was rarely used and is on Meyer’s agenda of places to renovate and re-purpose. Meyer intends to take half of this parkway and create an area filled with dunes and trees as a solution to any future problems involving natural disasters. This dune system will house trees of pitch pine, that, when fully grown, will grow thick roots into the ground which will interlock with each other. Once planted, however, these trees will need to or three years in order to be strong and durable. The nature preserve will be well sunken, and will act as an efficient water basin in case of a flood. Meyer has stated his intentions to lower areas of this nature preserve to different heights so as to create an effective dune system. The preserve will also house wetlands and freshwater habitats for animals as well as to quickly absorb water from a flooding. The proposal is currently under review by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and has garnered the support of some local politicians. City Councilman Donovan Richards has taken to supporting the proposal, and stated he would be speaking with HPD department to get this project passed.