BORDERLANDS AND BOUNDARY WATERS
The lands surrounding our international borders contain spectacular landscapes and crucial habitats, from the vast expanses of desert along the U.S.-Mexico border to the snow-covered mountains near our border with Canada. Unfortunately, imperiled border habitats and species aren’t always given the protections they need to withstand new threats and human-caused pressures.
Joining the United States and Mexico, our borderlands to the south comprise one of the biggest ecosystem complexes in North America, with some of the least populated areas and the most important wildlife habitats remaining on the continent. This border region is also host to a diverse array of threatened, endangered, and rare species — including the Sonoran pronghorn, lesser long-nosed bat, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, and jaguar — and it contains millions of acres of public lands, such as Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Big Bend National Park, Coronado National Forest, and Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Tragically, the current situation on the border has exposed this area’s unique species and rugged terrain to unprecedented and often damaging human activity.
To preserve the borderlands’ remote beauty and amazing biodiversity, the Center is working to increase environmental oversight of activities affecting public lands near the U.S.-Mexico border and to protect endangered species and their habitat from the effects of rapidly increasing border militarization. We seek rigorous enforcement of environmental regulations along both our northern and southern borders to ensure that imperiled species in terrestrial and aquatic habitats are respected and protected.
Protecting Wildlife From Border Militarization
As part of this strategy, we encourage the use of wildlife-friendly vehicle barriers in strategic and sensitive areas like the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, the Goldwater Range, the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, and the Coronado National Forest. Such barriers have proven successful in other areas, like the Organ Pipe National Monument. We also advocate for foot or horse patrol where roads are unavailable or traverse through wildlife sanctuaries.
Protecting the San Pedro River Watershed
The Center is leading efforts to protect and reintroduce borderland predators such as the Mexican gray wolf, jaguar, ocelot, and Mexican bobcat. Protecting predators at the top of the food chain helps preserve a whole range of species — both animals and plants — and maintains general ecosystem health. Unfortunately, predators like the Mexican gray wolf and jaguar are some of the rarest mammals in North America.
For millennia, the untamed Colorado River flowed from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado to the Gulf of California, nourishing along the way vast wildlands and abundant wildlife. Roughly 90,000 acres of cottonwood-willow riparian forest once covered a massive Colorado River floodplain from the Grand Canyon downstream to what’s now the international border with Mexico — but dams, diversion canals, and channelization have converted much of the river to little more than a conveyance canal for delivering water to sprawling southwestern cities and big agribusiness. Precious little flow remains to maintain the river's riparian forest corridor through the delta and nourish the estuary at the river's mouth. A diminished delta also threatens to diminish Gulf of California species found nowhere else in the world that depend on freshwater flows and a healthy estuary ecosystem, including the Gulf of California harbor porpoise (or vaquita), a vanishing fish called the totoaba, and the Colorado Delta clam.
Learn more about the Center’s Ocean Noise Campaign.
Funding Mexico Biosphere Reserve Protection
Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
The Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park became the world’s first peace park when it was formed in 1932 with the merging of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada and Glacier National Park in Montana. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 when the advisory committee determined it warranted listing due to its scenic values and cultural significance.
Unfortunately, climate change is causing the rapid disappearance of glaciers and significant damage to vegetation and wildlife in the park. To save it from these climate-change impacts, in 2006 the Center led a dozen conservation organizations from the United States and Canada in petitioning the World Heritage Committee to include the site on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger. In response to the petition, the Bush administration countered with a position paper claiming that the site should not be listed because “there is not unanimity regarding the impacts, causes . . . or if man can affect the changes we are observing.” It also claimed that putting a site on the List of World Heritage Sites in Danger requires the consent of the state concerned, even though it’s not required by the World Heritage Convention. The petition was ultimately denied; however, a new petition is currently before the Committee to list the park due to threats from a nearby strip mine and coal-bed methane project.
|Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument photo © Robin Silver||HOME / DONATE NOW / SIGN UP FOR E-NETWORK / CONTACT US / PHOTO USE /|