Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Park Service Says Archaeological Sites Are Imperiled by Border Wall

The Construction of President Trump’s Wall along the Southwestern Border will Significantly Damage or Completely Destroy more than 20 Archaeological Sites in a Natural Park in the Heart of Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, according to a Study conducted by the National Park Service.

Natural and Cultural Resources in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, 517 Square Miles of Mountain Ranges and Desert Land, would be put at Risk from the Building of the Wall, the Park Service determined, raising Questions about One of the President’s Policy Initiatives.

Scientists have found Stone Tools, Rock Shelters, Artifacts, and Ancient Engravings in the area, which has been Populated for 16,000 years. That includes the Historic Quitobaquito Springs, where Ancient Cultures obtained Seashells and Salt along what is known as the Old Salt Trail.

The National Park Service found 17 Archaeological Sites that “likely will be wholly or partially destroyed by the forthcoming border fence construction.” An Additional Five Sites that Park Experts want Protected under the National Register of Historic Places could also be Damaged.

Artifacts that have yet to be Discovered “will be destroyed over the course of ensuing border wall construction,” the Report said. The Wall is expected to be Constructed over a Section of the Southern Border of the National Park called the Roosevelt Reservation, “an area of great concern, whose cultural and natural resources are imperiled,” according to the National Park Service.

The Report highlights how the Construction of the Border Wall can cause the Efforts of One Agency to Undercut the Mission of another. While the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has primarily become an Immigration Enforcement Agency, the National Park Service remains Responsible for Preserving the Land that is Guaranteed to be Damaged by Trump’s Barriers.

In recent months, Trump has Pressured Homeland Security Officials to Speed the Construction of his Border Wall, perhaps his most Prominent Campaign Promise. After the Supreme Court Ruled in July that the Administration could use $2.5 Billion in Defense Department Money for the Construction of the Wall as the Legal Fight over the Money continues, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Army Corps of Engineers began Building about Two Miles of Barriers a Week.

Trump has promised that 500 Miles of Wall would be Erected in his First Term, but so far, his Administration has built only 66 Miles of Replacement Fencing or Barriers, largely in Areas where Dilapidated Impediments already Existed.

The Agency has also been able to Waive Environmental Protection Laws that would Require the Administration to Produce an In-Depth Environmental Impact Analysis and Perform Environmental Monitoring after Construction.

Environmental Experts said the Construction of the Wall will affect more than just the Archaeological Sites identified in the Report. The Unearthing of the Area surrounding the Barriers and the Installation of Lights on the Wall will Devastate Wildlife and Contaminate Cultural Lands, they say. The Organ Pipe Cactus Monument is Sandwiched between the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and the Tohono O’odham Reservation. Leaders of the Tohono O’odham say the Border Wall would virtually Split the Indigenous Community in Half.

Laiken Jordahl, a Borderlands Campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity, said the Wall would Lead to “the severe degradation of Organ Pipe as a whole. The lights that will be installed on top of the wall, blasted into the wilderness, the ground water being sucked up — it’s more than just a border wall,” said Mr. Jordahl, who used to Work on the Memorial. “All of these activities will just increase the desertification of the region.”

The National Park Service Website Highlights that the Arizona Park was Exposed to Damaging Illegal Border Crossings and Smuggling in the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Army Corps of Engineers is Replacing the Vehicle Barriers and Fencing along the 30-Mile Southern Border of the Organ Pipe National Monument with a 30-Foot-Tall Steel Bollard Fence which involved Five Days of Field Work in June.

Kevin Dahl, Arizona Senior Program Manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said Trump’s Campaign Promise would Harm not only the Archaeological Sites but also the Tribal Lands.

“Many of these archaeological sites were produced by the ancestors of people who still live in the area and have great concerns about the impact of the wall on their sacred space,” Dahl said. “It’s not going to reduce drugs or immigration of asylum seekers. It’s just pretty wallpaper to fulfill a campaign promise that should have never been made.”

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