In the 1980s, When Kevin Dahl first began visiting the Organ Pipe Cactus national monument in southern Arizona, the border was unmarked, save for a simple fence used to keep cattle from a ranch in the US from crossing into Mexico. In those days, park rangers would call in their lunch orders at a diner located just across the border.
Since then, a 30ft steel bollard wall has replaced the old barbed wire fence at Organ Pipe. The towering steel barrier cuts through the Unesco reserve like a rust-colored suture.
“It’s this incredible scar,” said Kevin Dahl, a senior program manager at the National Parks Conservation Association, describing the wall that snakes its way through a pristine track of Sonoran desert, dwarfing the giant cacti that give this dessert its name. “What was once a connected landscape is now a dissected one.”
That dissection is now a reality across much of the US border. It is a landscape increasingly defined by walls, roads, fences and associated border infrastructure that is fragmenting critically protected habitats, desecrating sacred cultural sites and threatening numerous endangered species in some of the most biodiverse and unique places in North America.
“Border construction has had a huge impact on some of the most remote and biodiverse landscapes on the continent,” said Dan Millis, a campaigner at the Sierra Club. “The Trump administration is taking it even further.”
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