On Saturday morning, we attended a final event in celebration of the Sabal Palms Audubon?Sanctuary whose official last day will be?Friday 15 May 2009. ?Audubon decided to close The Sabal Palms Sanctuary primarily due to the construction of the border wall. ?DHS plans to build the wall north of the Sanctuary, making access to the park difficult. ?The location of the Sanctuary is north of the Rio Grande, providing another reminder that U.S. residents have increasingly limited access to land on the southside of the border wall. ?This proposed construction reminds us, once again, that DHS’s inability to provide transparency in the process of the border wall construction hinders the everyday movement and lives of U.S. citizens. ?This lack of transparency makes planning incredibly difficult.?? Not to mention that during these hard economic times, the loss of jobs and revenue from tourism that these parks generate effects the quality of life for residents and workers in the Rio Grande Valley.??? According the Sierra Club, DHS will not provide compensation for damage and devaluation that the border wall construction brings to properties adjacent?and often times on?their construction sites.? DHS also leaves completely uncertain the basic issue of access to property.
The Sabal Palms Sanctuary is a significant place for a variety of reasons. To us, the foremost is that it is one of the last remaining places where residents and visitors can glimpse what this region looked like before farming and ranching stripped the land of its trees:? imagine a forest of palms.? Rather than heat parching desolate tracts of land with outposts of mesquite, this land once stood thick with native palms trees.? The trees were so dense that when you looked up, you couldn??t see the sun, just palm fronds. ?You would hear the sounds of those fronds shaking in the breeze.? It felt more like a rain forest in Costa Rica than the flatlands of soil that you see today.? The density of the palms is why some of the first Europeans to visit this region named the Rio Grande ??Rio de las Palmas?? (River of the Palms).
The other two places where you can see the palm forests will also be located behind the border wall.