Border Wall in South Texas National Wildlife Refuges

In mid-July 2017 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extracted soil samples in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge to prepare for construction of three miles of concrete levee wall and fence. We understand that funding is already in place for construction of the wall in the Refuge, a wall that would cause significant harm to the Refuge and the wildlife protected by its mission, and that construction could begin in 2017.

Rio Grande through SANWR. Photo by Larry Ditto.

As of July 2017, Congress has not yet approved a proposed 1.6 billion dollars for constructing a wall along the rest of the Mexican border, including approximately 30 miles in Hidalgo County that were not included in the 2006 border wall construction. Many of the Hidalgo County gaps in the 2006 border wall are in National Wildlife Refuge tracts, Texas State Parks, and the National Butterfly Center.

The Friends of the Wildlife Corridor opposes construction of any further border walls in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, particularly within Santa Ana and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuges.

  • We are concerned about the negative effect on the wildlife and plant species in the Refuge posed by the proposed wall.
  • We are concerned about the irreversible physical damage to the Refuge that would be caused by construction of the wall and the associated clearing and lighting.
  • We are concerned about the inhibiting effect the wall would have on public access to the Refuge, restricting ability of the visitors – including thousands of school children per year — to experience old-growth forest in a region where little native habitat remains.
  • By damaging the refuges and inhibiting visits to the “crown jewel”(Santa Ana) of the national wildlife refuge system, the wall will have a negative economic effect on eco-tourism in a region where the poverty level is about 35%, and that concerns us.
  • We are concerned about the process by which this wall, which has such sweeping potential effects on our region, has been planned — in secrecy with no public knowledge or participation, and with no evaluation of environmental, social, or economic effects. We strongly disagree with that approach.

With construction of the wall in Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge currently scheduled to begin as soon as November 2017, we are calling for your help to block that construction and ensure that elected officials understand the damage this wall will cause. Please do whatever you can to let people know that a wall through the Santa Ana and Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuges is unacceptable. Please contact your own elected officials to express your opposition.

Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)  photo by Larry Ditto.

Please stand with us against the proposed border wall in our Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.


Fact sheet on the wall proposed through Santa Ana NWR and its effects on the habitat and the regional economy.

Template for a letter to urge decision-makers to reverse the rush to wall off the Refuge.

8-minute video made at the time of the initial fence along the border. The video makes a plea and describes facts that are as relevant now as in 2005. 7-minute video and article on the effect of U.S.-Mexico border fence on wildlife.


Los Angeles Times, July 17th, Trump Wall Would End Public Access

Austin American-Statesman, July 25th, Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge may be cut off by new wall


National Wildlife Refuge Association post, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Ground Zero for Border Wall Expansion.

American Bird Conservancy press release, Keep the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Intact.