Birder's Guide

AUG 2018

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 31 of 35

top left to bottom : n Birds such as this Altamira Oriole (photo © Aaron Maizlish) can fly up and away when the Rio Grande floods. But, should a border wall be built, terres- trial animals such as Ocelot (photo © Emmanuel Keller) and Texas Tortoise (photo © Tom Benson) will likely drown or become stranded in trees and subsequently starve. n Wrapping up three days of meetings with lawmakers in Washington, D.C., are (L to R) Jim Chapman (FOWC), John McClung (FOWC), Tiffany Kersten (FOWC), and Jeffrey Gordon (ABA). Photo © Jeffrey Gordon 30 Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community | August 2018 Walling off Wildlife of this dream has already been severed. In 2008, a segment of border wall was built be- tween the quaint Hidalgo World Birding Center and a 54-acre tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR; the proximity and contiguous nature of the two sites was the very reason the birding center was created in the first place. Border Patrol installed a gate there with the promise that it would remain open during business hours so people could access the birding center. But that promise was broken. The entire tract of land, including a one-mile paved nature trail, is now completely closed to the pub- lic. The same fate could befall other beloved birding sites and natural areas, such as Bentsen Lower Rio Grande Valley State Park, Anzalduas County Park, and the National Butterfly Center. ADVOCACY A short time into my term as a board member of Friends of the Wildlife Corridor (the non-profit support group for Santa Ana and Lower Rio Grande Valley NWRs), talk was ramping up about the possi- bility of 60 additional miles of border wall in the Rio Grande Valley. An informal border wall resistance coalition, which includes the Sierra Club, Friends of the Wildlife Corridor, immigrant rights groups, and others, was formed. In August 2017, our coali- tion held a "Save Santa Ana" hike. Over 682 people walked to the observation tower and back to the levee, where we lined up and held hands, instead forming a "wall of humanity" where the proposed border wall was proposed to be built. In October, two other members of the Friends of the Wildlife Corridor and I went to Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress. There, we were joined by ABA President Jeff Gordon, and together we educated lawmakers about the negative environ- mental and economic impacts that new border walls in the Rio Grande Valley would create. We spent three days visiting with staff from offices of lawmak- ers both Democratic and Republican. Additionally, we hand-delivered informational packets to all 528

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