A Monarch Queen takes nectar from its host plant, the Tropical Milkweed, at the National Butterfly Center. Plans are for Trump's border wall to be built along the levee that will cut The National Butterfly Center in half. The NBC is near Mission, TX. Photo: Bob Owen / San Antonio Express-News

By Silvia Foster-Frau
6 December 2018

(San Antonio Express News) – Bulldozers are expected to soon plow through the protected habitat of the National Butterfly Center along the Rio Grande to clear the way for President Trump’s border wall, which got a green light from the Supreme Court this week. [cf. National Butterfly Center issues plea for help against imminent destruction for Trump border fence –Des]

Hundreds of thousands of butterflies flit through the center’s 100-acre sanctuary in Mission. But 70 percent of the land will eventually be on the other side the wall, said Marianna Wright, the executive director.

“Just like farmers get crop yield in acres and inches, we get butterflies based on what we have planted in acres and inches,” Wright said. “So having a wide swath of our property bulldozed is going to negatively impact the volume of the species and diversity of the species.”

The wall could be up to three stories tall, with 18-foot steel beams, called bollards, rising from a concrete base. Construction through the refuge could start in February.

Max Munoz,, Grounds Manager at the National Butterfly Center, catalogs flowers found at the center. Plans are for Trump's border wall to be built along the levee that will cut The National Butterfly Center in half. The NBC is near Mission, TX. Photo: Bob Owen / San Antonio Express-News

The high court let stand an appeals ruling that lets the administration bypass 28 federal laws, mostly to protect the environment, to build the wall in the Rio Grande Valley. The Animal Legal Defense Fund and two other organizations had sued the government.

Some of the laws that were waived include the Endangered Species Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Environmental activists argue the wall could lead to the extinction of endangered species such as the ocelot, contamination of drinking water and destruction of indigenous historical sites.

“The border wall and the border region is an area of tremendous biodiversity and wildlife,” said Tony Eliseuson, a senior staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “It’s a very rich environmental area, and this border wall will have a devastating impact on both the environment and many, many species.” […]

The butterfly center sued the government after contract workers appeared unannounced on its property in July 2017. Chainsaws in hand, they began clearing out protected habitat where the border wall was planned.

“That is criminal. And unconstitutional,” Wright said. […]

Entrance to the National Butterfly Center near Mission, TX. Plans are for Trump's border wall to be built along the levee that will cut The National Butterfly Center in half. Photo: Bob Owen / San Antonio Express-News

Other laws being waived for this construction include the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act and the Clean Air Act.

“We have a president who purports to be all about law and order, and he and the Supreme Court are now supporting the waiver of all laws that get in the way of his agenda,” Wright said. “That should be an affront to all Americans.” [more]

Bulldozers to soon plow through National Butterfly Center for Trump’s border wall

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