May 10, 2017
To Whom it May Concern,
In regards to President Trump’s declaration to construct a wall on the US Mexico border and proposals to emplace alternative, permanent infrastructure: Big Bend Ranch State Park in southwestern Texas encompasses more than 60% of State protected acreage in Texas and conserves over 300,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert ecosystem. Among the numerous attributes which make these parks unique in North America are the unbroken vistas of rugged, canyon-carved, mountainous terrain within the park traversing over 50 miles of boundary between Texas and Mexico along River Road/FM 170.
Compadres del Rancho Grande is the non-profit support group for Texas Parks and Wildlife parks of the Texas-Mexico borderlands region of the Big Bend, including historic Fort Leaton, the Barton Warnock Visitor Center, Big Bend Ranch State Park and the Chinati Mountains State Natural Area. CDRG works TPWD to prioritize and implement projects and enhance the visitor experience. We provide resources to promote and sustain the parks, and we advocate on behalf of the parks. Promoting the parks and the preservation of their natural and cultural resources is central to our mission.
Historically the Big Bend sector has been responsible for about 1% percent of drug trafficking and 1.5% of undocumented immigrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border. Currently the Department of Homeland Security reports a reduction in total border apprehensions. Constructing a wall and alternative proposals, such as 100’ digital watchtowers every 10-15 miles through this mountainous terrain within the park would profoundly and detrimentally impact high-value visitor use areas of Big Bend Ranch State Park along River Road/FM 170. Furthermore, construction of a border wall is not supported by Congressman Will Hurd, who is on record saying a wall is the most expensive least effective way of securing the border and has advocated for local governments determining what border infrastructure they need. Emplacement of such infrastructure and the activities required to install and service them have potential to be destructive to the parks’ natural and cultural resources and to negatively impact the visitor experience, thereby contradicting CDRG’s mission.
We support necessary and appropriate efforts by our friends and neighbors and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Big Bend Sector. We support Bipartisan efforts to address substance use disorders in the U.S. and addiction factors which drive Mexican cartel violence and smuggling. We support solutions to the stated problems effectively targeted to the root causes of addiction and violence over the construction of unnecessary, destructive and expensive infrastructure. We support the protection of the park’s natural, cultural and aesthetic resources for future generations.
Small and declining numbers of border apprehensions and interdiction do not justify militarizing the border or visually and otherwise permanently damaging it by emplacing walls, towers or other permanent structures. Compadres del Rancho Grande therefore opposes statements, initiatives, politicization and other efforts to falsely characterize the Big Bend Reach of the border as dangerous, in need of militarization or of a wall or any other physically disruptive infrastructure.
Charlie Angell, Chair, Redford Texas
Linda Aaker, Ex Officio, Austin Texas
Crystal Allbright, Vice Chair, Terlingua, Texas
Dennis Avila, Presidio, Texas
Chris Childs, Kerrville, Texas
Stuart Crane, Alpine, Texas
Hall Hammond, Ex Officio, San Antonio, Texas
Robert Killian, Treasurer, Houston, Texas
Mike Marvins, Houston, Texas
Pilar Pedersen, Secretary, Presidio, Texas
Gary Nored, Lajitas, Texas
John Reenan, Dallas, Texas
Michael Ryan, Terlingua, Texas
Garrick Stephens, Dallas, Texas
Kevin Urbanczyk, Alpine, Texas