12:03 AM

For Immediate Release

DHS Appropriations Bill includes Border Wall Construction Through National Wildlife Refuge

WASHINGTON (February 14, 2019) – Legislation expected to pass Congress today to fund the Department of Homeland Security and a number of other federal departments and agencies for the remainder of FY 2019 appropriates $1.3 billion for construction of an additional 55 miles of border wall along the southern border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas. Eleven miles of the new barrier will be concrete levee wall. The bill excludes the following areas from construction: Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, La Lomita Historical Park, the National Butterfly Center and within and east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge (LRGV).

Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued this statement:

“We are grateful to congressional negotiators for exempting from destructive wall construction border areas of great importance to wildlife: the Vista del Mar tract of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and east to the Gulf of Mexico, a critically important ocelot corridor, the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and the National Butterfly Center. These areas are essential habitat for species like the endangered ocelot and more than 400 species of birds.

“However, we are extremely disappointed that the negotiated deal will fund wall construction in some of the most important and biodiverse habitat in the world, including other large portions of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Refuge. Funding for 55 miles of additional wall will cause irreparable damage to borderlands wildlife and communities. And make no mistake, a wall or a fence has the same destructive impacts no matter how it is called. We will continue to fight to prevent any barrier construction.”


  • Concrete levee wall is already being constructed in one parcel of the Lower Rio Grande Valley (LRGV) National Wildlife Refuge with funds provided in FY 2018 appropriations legislation.
  • LRGV Refuge was established in 1979 to conserve the rich biodiversity of the Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas by preserving an east-west wildlife corridor along the last 275 river miles on the U.S.–Mexico border to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • LRGV Refuge currently comprises more than 145 individual tracts totaling approximately 100,000 acres, connecting otherwise isolated habitat areas including private conservation properties, state parks, federal lands and other land ownerships.
  • LRGV Refuge encompasses an array of unique habitats that support more than 500 bird species, 100 species of reptiles and amphibians, 50 mammal species and 300 butterfly species, which comprise half of all butterfly species found in North America. It also conserves over 775 species of plants.
  • Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge is a biological treasure that provides habitat for more than 400 species of birds, over 300 species of butterflies and at least 8 species protected under the Endangered Species Act, including the critically imperiled ocelot.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.