New era on border wall about to begin

Sierra Club says protections need to be restored

New era on border wall about to begin
(Source: AP Photo/Matt York, File)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - On January 20, 2021, the wall being built in the West deserts of Arizona will enter a new phase, one which promises less wall and more environmental protection.

“President-elect Biden famously pledged that not another foot of wall will be built under his administration,” said Dan Millis, Borderlands Program Manager at the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “So we would like to help him keep that promise.”

That will be difficult because there are still contracts with the builders in force and whether they can be immediately terminated is a decision likely for the courts.

But the Sierra Club believes the next step is trying to figure our what to do “about this border wall disaster”.

“The mountains which have been dynamited, the burial sites that have been dynamited and bulldozed, those are all permanently damaged,” Millis said. “So now we have to find out how we can mitigate that damage, what can be saved and what will be gone forever.”

One of the sites which might be saved is Quitobaquito Springs, just West of Lukeville and a stones throw from the Mexican border.

Construction workers have been pumping millions of gallons of water from the ancient aquifer which has fed the spring for at least 16,000 years. It’s been dated by artifacts found there.

The oasis in the desert is now dry.

Scientists will try to determine if there is a leak, whether it’s caused by the drought or the pumping of the water which has caused the spring to stop flowing.

“It’s really a tragedy to see this desert oasis gem dried up and the impact it has for the wildlife that depend on it,” Millis said.

But he believes it may survive but it will take a long time for the water to recharge.

“This is ancient water in the ground in this area,” Millis said. “So in terms of restoring the flow, I think that’s going to take many years.”

As far as the wall itself, it’s unlikely to be taken down by the new administration but it can be modified.

“I think most of these wall can be safely, quickly and cheaply be replaced by the vehicles that were there before,” he said. “Cut the wall down, remove every other post and turn it into an effective vehicle barrier.

That would at least allow wildlife to migrate as they have for centuries, an important aspect of the restoration process.

“We would like to see the border wall end with the Trump administration,” Millis said. “Both need to come to an end.”

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