The proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico would run along one of the most rugged and ecologically varied regions in the country. In addition to the many human rights and fiscal concerns, there is another, the environment. Will Stone of member station KJZZ reports from southern Arizona.
STONE: From a gusty ridge, Sedgwick traces the silhouette of the existing fence climbing across the folds of this craggy landscape. His family has ranched near the Arizona border south of Tucson since the ’50s.
STONE: Millis and Sedgwick head down to the riverbed where the current fence gives way to smaller vehicle barriers. Sedgwick gestures to a pile of twisted steel and debris, the evidence of damage done by flash flooding here.
STONE: Sedgwick says erecting an impenetrable wall, as President Trump has called for, will only exacerbate these problems. But the first thought about a wall is safety for Pat King. Her family has ranched here for more than a century. She recounts one harrowing story after another – drug busts, bodies found on their land, people destitute, wandering into their home.
PAT KING: The horrors that went on – we’d have women come in and they were holding each other’s hands, both hands, and they just had a death grip. And we would assure them that you’ll be OK. No, they must have gone through hell.
STONE: It’s not that King doesn’t care about the environment, though. She works on conservation issues in this valley and pulls out a photo from 10 years ago depicting heaps of trash strewn across the desert.
STONE: Roger McManus is a conservation biologist. Before moving to Tucson, he and his wife, Dinah Bear, an environmental attorney, spent much of their careers in Washington working for the federal government.
STONE: Meaning roads spring up without the typical vetting process and so do barriers. That makes people like McManus and Bear concerned a border wall could go up with little regard for the environmental consequences. For NPR News, I’m Will Stone along the Arizona-Mexico border.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.