Government has continued work despite receiving appeal from groups Monday(10/05/2007) -
WASHINGTON – Today, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club filed for a temporary restraining order which would immediately halt construction on a segment of border fence along the U.S.-Mexico border in the San Pedro National Conservation Area (NCA).
The groups are asking a federal court to grant them a temporary restraining order to halt construction of a border wall in the San Pedro NCA so that an appropriate assessment can be made on the impact of the wall on wildlife and protected federal public lands.
“This assessment should be done before the area is bulldozed,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, executive vice president of Defenders of Wildlife. “Since the government is moving forward with the construction as we speak, we are forced to turn to the federal courts to stop their short-sighted plan. If this construction is allowed to move forward unchecked, severe and potentially irreparable damage will be done to the San Pedro National Conservation Area—an irreplaceable national treasure.”
The San Pedro River is one of the last free-flowing rivers in the southwestern United States, and its natural beauty and diverse wildlife attract visitors from around the globe. The conservation area through which it runs is one of America’s most unique and biologically diverse areas. The San Pedro region has been designated as a World Heritage Natural Area by the United Nations World Heritage program. Some 250 species of migratory birds have been recorded in the area, which led to its designation as a Globally Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society, American Bird Conservancy, and the international Commission for Environmental Cooperation.
Earlier this week, Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club formally appealed to the government to look at the overall impacts on wildlife and protected public lands that building miles of walls along the border between Arizona and Mexico would have, as well as to consider alternatives. The government has already agreed to do this kind of comprehensive assessment in Texas, and the same should be done in Arizona where construction has already begun in some places, including the San Pedro NCA.
Construction on the San Pedro segment of fence has continued unabated throughout the week.
“The government has willingly continued construction of the border fence in the San Pedro National Conservation Area despite having received our appeal on Monday. If we don’t ask for this temporary restraining order now, our arguments will never be heard and it will be too late for the San Pedro and the wildlife that rely on it,” said Sean Sullivan with the Sierra Club’s Rincon (southeastern Arizona) Group. “The bottom line is that there needs to be a comprehensive assessment done before breaking ground on projects such as this one. Following the processes that have been on the books for many years will ensure that our national treasures are protected, and that is what we are trying to accomplish today.”
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 900,000 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 www.defenders.org .
The Sierra Club is America's oldest, largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, the Sierra Club’s 1.3 million members and supporters, including the 14,000 members of Arizona’s Grand Canyon Chapter, work together to protect our communities and the planet. www.sierraclub.org 
Contact(s):Joe Vickless, Defenders of Wildlife, (202)772-0237
Matt Clark, Defenders of Wildlife, (520)623-9653
Sean Sullivan, The Sierra Club, (520)250-9040