“This is the kind of evidence that shows just how critical the water level situation is in San Bernardino refuge and how the border wall is driving species closer to extinction. The levels have become dangerously low due to wall construction and now it’s to the point that refuge personnel must dry some ponds to allow others to have enough water for endangered species to survive. Without intervention, it is all too likely that some species may be lost forever.”

- Jacob Malcom, Director of the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders of Wildlife and former biologist at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge.

DOUGLAS, Ariz.

Defenders of Wildlife recently obtained documentation showing border wall construction efforts in and around the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Arizona are threatening ground water sources and imperiled wildlife. This document, created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, proves that border wall construction is dramatically reducing water supplies on which numerous species and habitats depend, and may further endanger them. 


The report documents extensive pumping of the Glenn Ranch Well, which is sited just off the refuge and draws from the area’s aquifer, in order to make concrete for the wall. Water supply is already reduced in this area because of drought and agricultural overuse. Consumption because of this construction is dramatically reducing water availability on the refuge.

At least seven endangered species that live in the refuge are under threat from the lowered water levels, including: Yaqui catfish (the only catfish west of the Continental Divide), beautiful shiner, Yaqui chub, Yaqui topminnow, Chiricahua leopard frog, Mexican garter snake and the Huachuca water umbel (a small wetland plant that helps stabilize stream banks against erosion, especially important during monsoonal flooding).


Jacob Malcom, Director of the Center for Conservation Innovation at Defenders of Wildlife and former biologist at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, issued the following statement:


“This is the kind of evidence that shows just how critical the water level situation is in San Bernardino refuge and how the border wall is driving species closer to extinction. Water levels have become dangerously low due to wall construction and now it’s to the point that refuge personnel must dry some ponds to allow others to have enough water for endangered species to survive. Without intervention, it is all too likely that some species may be lost forever.”

Background:

  • San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge was originally established as part of the refuge system in 1982 to protect the water resources and provide habitat for endangered native fish. 
  • The 2,369-acre refuge is the only place in the country where four ESA-listed desert fishes of the Rio Yaqui are found – all of which are threatened with imminent extinction because of border wall construction.
  • Defenders of Wildlife has created an interactive map of threatened and endangered species that rely on National Wildlife Refuge System to survive, including at San Bernardino refuge. 

Multimedia:

  • Please contact Rebecca Bullis (rbullis@defenders.org) if you are interested in photos of any of the seven aquatic species threatened by border construction at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge. 

Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.

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