Proposed Arizona-Mexico wall threatens Southwest’s last free-flowing river

The San Pedro River, the last free-flowing river in the American Southwest, in 2013.
/ William Herron, via Flickr

By Elizabeth Whitman | Phoenix New Times

Only one undammed river in the American Southwest still flows freely, and it begins just south of the border, in Sonora, Mexico.

From there, the San Pedro River courses north into Arizona, a rare and unbarricaded corridor that is a haven and vital water source for a vast array of plants and wildlife, including beaver, javelina, jaguar, the hog-nosed skunk, the Southwestern willow flycatcher, migrating songbirds, and the cactus ferruginous pygmy owl.

eBut plans this summer to construct a bollard wall across the San Pedro, part of a broader project to put new walls across the southern border of Arizona, are threatening this crucial ecosystem. Environmentalists say that such a wall would wreak environmental and hydrological havoc on a riparian corridor that is already damaged by excessive groundwater pumping.

 “The construction of 63 miles of border walls in the locations proposed would cause severe and irreversible damage to the environment and harm the culture, commerce, and quality of life for communities and residents located near the project areas,” the Center for Biological Diversity said in comments submitted Friday, June 28, to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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