To the list of groups and people anxious about a border wall cutting through rural and wild areas of Texas, add one of the state’s most powerful landowner rights and conservation groups.
The executive committee of the Texas Wildlife Association announced this week that it is “concerned that a physical barrier along the rural Texas/Mexico border would result in substantial condemnation of private property by eminent domain, interrupt landowner/livestock/wildlife access to water from the Rio Grande, harm property values, and impair critical wildlife movement corridors for species such as black bears, mountain lions, white-tailed and mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep, among others.”
The Texas Wildlife Association counts 10,000 members who own or manage 40 million acres in Texas — an area larger than the state of Florida.
While the Wildlife Association executive committee statement also said the organization “sees merit in physical barriers at strategic locations, such as metropolitan areas” and that smuggling traffic is “massively disruptive to ranching, wildlife, and land management practices,” it was the latest suggestion that a border wall will meet resistance from influential quarters in Texas.
Gov. Greg Abbott, for one, has said he is against a wall through the Big Bend, as has U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, who represents that West Texas area. Environmental groups and wildlife scientists also have announced their opposition.
With much of the Texas-Mexico border in the hands of private landowners, the Texas Wildlife Association statement suggests landowners may be in for a showdown with the White House.
The Trump administration is seeking $4.1 billion over the next two years to begin construction of a wall on the Mexican border, as well as money to hire 20 more Justice Department lawyers to “obtain the land” for the wall.