The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has confirmed the border wall will be built on Bentsen State Park property in Mission.
The department wrote several letters to Customs and Border Protection on their concerns on the border wall, even suggesting an alternative design.
According to Josh Havens, spokesperson for Texas Parks and Wildlife, since the federal government can seize the property they need under their eminent domain authority, construction appears to be moving ahead as planned.”
Bentsen State Park is considered to be one of the top bird watching destinations in Texas.
“At first, we came for three or four days. Last year, we came for seven and this time we are coming for eight days,” said Charles Allen, who has been visiting the park for several years now.
Allen says the border wall would be a setback for the park.
“It would really be a disaster for the plants and the butterflies and for people who come to visit,” stated Allen.
CBP announced the construction of the border wall on the IBWC levee earlier this month.
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The levee stretches through Mission and lies on park property.
“The federal government has confirmed with us that the initial six miles, I believe, of the construction of the wall is going to go across the levee that is at Bentsen Rio Grande Valley State Park,” said Havens.
According to Havens, the construction will split the park into two, separating the main visitor center from the rest of the park.
CBP plans to clear out 150 feet south of the levee for the construction, according to Havens.
“The native plants here have some purpose either a butterfly or several butterflies, or moths or some other birds or other larger animals,” said Allen.
Havens says they are aware of the ecological importance the vegetation of the park has and is planning to work with CBP on minimizing the vegetation loss.
Still park visitors feel there should be something else done to protect the park.
“I hate to see them tear this park in half can there be other way to be done? I’m sure there are options,” mentioned Larry McGuire, a winter Texan who visits the park.
According to Havens, it is way too early to tell if the park will close after the construction of the border wall.
They will have to gauge visitation after construction to determine that.