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 32 of 35

31 August 2018 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community along with a diverse coalition of local resi- dents, can be proud of working together to save Santa Ana, we need to remain vigilant; the Santa Ana portion of the border wall represents only 9.5% of the wall which would be built through southern Texas's imperiled habitats. When the 2018 budget was released in March, Santa Ana NWR was exempted from the building of a border wall. But in- cluded in the 2018 budget was funding to wall off the rest of Hidalgo County: a 50- mile stretch of 18- to 30-foot-tall border walls, with a three-mile gap at Santa Ana. Our work begins anew, as we now have the opportunity to save the precious re- maining wildlife habitat in the Rio Grande Valley. There is so much more we can lose. Only together can we save the valley's re- maining natural places. CALL TO ACTION Santa Ana has been spared, but many tracts of public land are slated to end up behind border walls. Here is a list of the federal, state, county, and non-profit green spaces which could soon end up behind and/or be bulldozed to be replaced by the segments of border wall that are now fully funded: • La Parida Banco Tract (447 acres) • Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park (797 acres) • El Morillo Banco Tract (654 acres) • National Butterfly Center (100 acres) • Madero Tract (273 acres) • Granjeno Tract (3 acres) offices of the House and Senate. The response to our efforts was mostly positive, but for me the most poignant in- sight was the lack of understanding about the area. "What do you mean a border wall wouldn't go on the border?" was a com- mon question. While installing a border wall on the actual border would be a pret- ty straightforward (albeit still very damag- ing) endeavor further west, a wall cannot be built in the Rio Grande, as the river's path is meandering and ever-changing. We held another national rally on 27 January 2018, the day of Santa Ana's 75th anniversary. With over 900 people in attendance at and adjacent to the ref- uge that day, the event was a success. Visitors enjoyed speakers, music, poetry, and a free community barbecue put on by Congressman Filemeón Vela, Jr. (TX 34-D). The national media were also in attendance. Throughout the year, we encouraged everyone we know, and many whom we didn't, via paid posts on social media to call their senators and representatives. We also gave them pre-stamped postcards to fill out and address to their senators. D emocracy only works if we make our voices heard, both at the ballot box and with advocacy. Santa Ana NWR, we learned in March, has for the moment been spared a border wall. After over 10 months of our working to save the refuge, an exemption was written into the omni- bus funding bill. It's a reminder that "Yes, we can make a difference!" While we birders,

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