The Sonoran desert is my favorite place on earth. It is vast, largely wild and full of life.
Both the beauty of the Sonoran desert and the threat to its essential nature are brilliantly and heartbreakingly photographed in the exhibit “Continental Divide: Borderlands, Wildlife, People and the WALL,” a project by the International League of Conservation Photographers.
From the ILCP website:
The borderlands of the United States and Mexico harbor a hidden gem.
These remote wildlands that stretch from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico across the belly of North America provide safe haven for many wild species of plant and animals. Because much of the landscape around this international border has remained isolated for so long, many relatively intact and continentally rare ecosystems endure here—including Arizona’s last free flowing river, the San Pedro; some of the last undeveloped grasslands on the continent in the Janos/Hidalgo area along the New Mexico border; the single most diverse birding area in the United States along the Lower Rio Grande river, and habitat and migration corridors for some of both nation’s most imperiled species including the jaguar, Sonoran pronghorn, ocelot, bighorn sheep and Mexican gray wolves.
A fence designed to stop illegal border crossings between the United States and Mexico now divides six-hundred miles of land, much of it in biologically sensitive areas of the Sonoran desert. Although the fence has failed to keep out drug smugglers and others who wish to cross, it has been enormously effective in disrupting animal migrations and normal movement.
Groups opposing the fence are calling for actions to help save the borderlands and their inhabitants. These changes include:
- Repeal of the Real ID Act waiver authority.
- Development of a borderlands monitoring and mitigation plan to address the full range of ecological and environmental impacts of border infrastructure and operations.
- Requirement for meaningful consultation with private landowners and public-land and wildlife managers prior to any future border wall construction.
- Adoption of a new national border protection strategy based on findings from a functional assessment and cost comparison of border security alternatives and an analysis of past costs to public and tribal lands along the border.
- Suspension of additional border wall construction until 90 days after the national border protection strategy is submitted to Congress.
- Coordination of natural and cultural resource protection training by relevant federal and state agencies for customs and border protection agents to minimize or avoid adverse impacts on sensitive resources.
- Amendment to the Secure Fence Act of 2006 to change the emphasis from blindly building walls to gaining operational control of our northern and southern borders with natural, technological and manpower-based security methods.
You’ll find a schedule for exhibition locations in Arizona, here.
To learn more about these issues, visit the Sky Island Alliance.
For more information, including slides from the project, visit the website of Borderlands RAVE Team Leader, Krista Schlyer.