New video shows protected saguaro cacti at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona being destroyed by bulldozers preparing the site for construction of President Trump’s border wall.
Kevin Dahl, the senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)in Arizona, shot footage of the iconic saguaro cacti — known for growing more than three arms — being moved by bulldozers.
— National Parks Conservation Association (@NPCA) October 7, 2019
Dahl told news site Earther that the construction crews were knocking down desert plants and collecting them into piles when he visited the park last week.
He described feeling “outrage” over witnessing the destruction.
“We love these saguaros,” Dahl told the site. “The Tohomo O’odham [tribe], in their taxonomy of life saguaros are very close to humans. And you know, they have a majestic presence, they are the iconic symbol of this part of the world. You know you’re someplace different when you’re in a saguaro forest.”
The species in the park are protected by federal law, so crews are moving saguaros technically within a 60-foot strip of land called the Roosevelt Reservation that the government has access to for border protection, according to Earther.
The Army Corps of Engineers released a video last month saying that the saguaros and other types of cacti were being relocated to another area considered part of their natural habitat.
“There may be misconceptions that were are on a construction site and just not caring for the environment and just proceeding with work as planned,” a project engineer said in the clip. “This isn’t true. We’re taking great care to take care of the protected species.”
The Hill has reached out to The National Park Service (NPS) and Customs and Border Protection for comment.
The NPS warned in a 123-page internal memo from July that expanding a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border could damage 22 archeological sites, including artifacts from ancient Sonoran Desert peoples.
It noted previous research that found archaeological sites “likely will be wholly or partially destroyed by forthcoming border fence construction.”
Scientists have expressed concern that border wall crews will cause serious damage or dry up the spring if its water is tapped for mixing concrete or other construction purposes.
The NPCA also argued that the barrier wall will block wildlife like desert tortoises and mountain lions from accessing critical water sources and migration paths.
Construction has already begun on converting a 5-foot vehicle barrier to the 30-foot-high border wall. The barrier along the border with Mexico was a staple of Trump’s campaign, in which he vowed to complete 500 miles of wall before the 2020 presidential election.