LETTERS: Preserving RGV nature and heritage

Preserve RGV nature

As many now know, additions to the border wall are planned for South Texas. The proposed placement of the new wall would put multiple natural areas (Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, Bentsen State Park, Sabal Palm Audubon Sanctuary and others) on the south side of the wall and likely reduce and/or eliminate access to these areas. These areas have obvious ecotourism value and are also remnants of the natural habitat of what South Texas was. From a biologist’s perspective, these areas have great value. The Santa Ana refuge provides excellent foraging, nesting, and/or roosting habitat for many bird species (some rare) at various stages of their life cycle. These areas are also pockets of native plant species that are disappearing.

Over 30 years of effort by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife and its partners has been expended to develop a wildlife corridor for South Texas to keep native animals. The proposed wall would interfere with this effort. From an educator’s perspective, the proposed wall could also prevent students — from grade school to college — from accessing natural areas and learning about South Texas nature. Some of the plants and animals are part of our South Texas culture.

The Southwestern Association of Naturalists has developed a resolution against the border wall based on biological concerns. It would be helpful for the citizens of South Texas to be informed in a timely manner about the proposed wall sections and be given the opportunity to participate in the decisions being made. With more people moving to South Texas, providing places to see the “real” South Texas is needed.

Hudson DeYoe, Edinburg

Preserving our heritage

Congratulations are due to our colleagues at Texas Tech for the award of the National Park Service planning grant for Palmito Ranch battlefield. Heritage tourism associated with historic sites is a form of sustainable development which contributes to the region’s quality of life through community-based education. The Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools (CHAPS) Program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley oversees the Rio Grande Valley Civil War Trail, which runs from Laredo to Brownsville. Visitors to the trail learn of the significance of the Rio Grande region during this great conflict. The trail, and in turn our region, will be greatly enhanced through the efforts of Texas Tech. We wish them great success in their endeavor.

Dr. Russell K. Skowronek, director, CHAPS Program, UTRGV