Thoughts on the San Pedro and the wall

A basic cornerstone of our democracy is citizen oversight and participation in our government. In Cochise County the highest level of governance is our elected County Board of Supervisors. It is our Board of Supervisors that ensures that our county is well-managed and that the constituents are provided with the opportunity to know what is planned by government and to advise the government of their views.

As noted in the Strategic Plan for the County, it is our Board of Supervisors (BOS) that has a lead in ensuring increased intergovernmental cooperation – with a focus on water stewardship, wildlife management, access to public lands and management of the San Pedro Riparian Area.

The San Pedro Riparian Area is an invaluable resource for recreation and our economy treasured by our local residents and a significant draw for tourism to our County. FY 2018 brought in over $300,000 and in excess of 23,000 visitors to the San Pedro House and Fairbanks Schoolhouse. We cannot afford to negatively impact a critical wildlife migratory flyway and river corridor, compromising its pristine beauty and life-giving waters.

As part of our national effort for increased border security, the Department of Homeland Security is upgrading border barriers along our Southern border. Much of that construction is occurring on dry land, but in Arizona it is also an issue for waterways we share with Mexico, such as the San Pedro River. It is important that construction enhance our border security, but does not unduly adversely impact the river and the values it brings to the County.

I am grateful and very pleased with the leadership demonstrated by the Board of Supervisors in their February 11th, Letter of Endorsement to Representative Ann Kirkpatrick to...”encourage the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to engage with state and local agencies, as well as the general public…” and encouraging DHS to conduct a public meeting. Working together with Rep. Kirkpatrick demonstrates a real commitment by the BOS in having the border barrier information shared with the public, as it is vital to address the stewardship needs of the river and the associated riparian area.

A public roundtable provides an opportunity for the Border Patrol to present their current plan for construction on the San Pedro River at the border and benefit from review and comments from Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, other experts and the citizens of our community.

This is a course we can and should enable to ensure the economic and other values of the San Pedro River continue for generations to come, while we work for increased border security.

Kate Scott

Director,

Madrean Archipelago Wildlife Center

Elgin

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