Dallas Morning News, Editorial Board
There are few more breathtakingly beautiful places in Texas than Big Bend National Park.
Adventurers can take in the rolling mountains on horseback. Families can hike the Santa Elena Canyon, then dip their toes in the river below. You can raft or canoe the Rio Grande. You might even see a black bear.
Spanning 800,000 acres, it’s a natural playground of deserts and wildlife for lovers of the great outdoors.
Now imagine a big wall running through this glorious park.
That would be shameful.
But that’s exactly what’s on the table if President-elect Donald Trump follows through his campaign promise to build a wall along the 2,000-mile Mexican border. Big Bend shares 118 miles of border with Mexico.
As one resident wrote in a letter to the editor: Building a wall through Big Bend would be like “a blanket thrown over the Statue of Liberty.”
We recognize concerns about illegal immigration by wall advocates. But there clearly are ways to address those without building a wall.
Think technology like ground sensors, cameras; and more patrol agents.
What’s more, there are only three paved roads coming out of Presidio and Brewster counties in the West Texas region near the park, and they all have border checkpoints.
For trafficking to increase dramatically through the park, more access roads would have to be built. Not to mention that building a wall – that some put at a $25 billion price tag – would require installing electrical lines through the park and special camps to house construction workers.
None of that is likely to occur.
We can only hope that some Trump surrogates are correct when they say that the wall might end up being a metaphor for enhancing border security than an actual bricks-and-mortar barrier. And that congressional Republicans, if asked to support a wall, would support those alternative measures instead.
An added bonus to the spectacular views at Big Bend is taking a rowboat or ferry across the Rio Grande for a day trip to the Mexican village of Boquillas del Carmen for shopping or a great meal. When the crossing reopened in 2013, it signaled a recognition of the park’s binational offerings and renewed efforts to create a protected area straddling the border.
A wall would tap the brakes on those conservation efforts, threaten wildlife and harm tourism.
We can’t let that happen to this national treasure.