Departments of the Interior, Homeland Security Announce $6.8 Million in Conservation Projects
Washington - The U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have completed the first InterAgency Agreement under the 2009 Memorandum of Agreement to fund environmental mitigation projects that will benefit several species of fish and wildlife affected by border security projects in the Southwest. Signed September 28, the agreement will fund $6.8 million in projects and represents the first of a series of efforts designed to mitigate impacts from the construction of fencing and other security measures along the U.S. Border with Mexico.
"CBP is committed to collaborating with the Department of Interior to find workable solutions on special status lands," said CBP Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar. "These projects demonstrate CBP's commitment to fulfill its enforcement responsibilities while respecting the environment."
"The projects we are announcing today are, in effect, part of a down payment on mitigating the impact on wildlife and its habitat from the on-going effort to secure our southern border," Assistant Secretary Rhea Suh said. "In the future, we will continue to work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to fund new projects that ensure threatened and endangered species and other wildlife along the border are conserved and the fragile ecosystems they depend upon are protected."
The initial mitigation projects include funding to restore habitat for lesser long-nosed bats in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Ariz.; re-establish the Aplomado falcon in New Mexico; install a fish barrier at San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge, Ariz., to preclude competition with invasive species; study movement of bighorn sheep in California; survey and monitor jaguars and their habitat in Arizona.
Customs and Border Protection is funding these projects under a 2009 Memorandum of Agreement between CBP and the Department of the Interior for mitigation of unavoidable impacts to natural and cultural resources due to construction of border security infrastructure. Under this agreement, CBP will fund DOI up to $50 million over the next few years for mitigation needs.
Over the past three years, CBP has constructed about 650 miles of fence along the southwest border as an integral part of the nation's strategy to improve border security. CBP has committed to responsible environmental stewardship throughout the life-cycle of the tactical infrastructure, from construction through operations and maintenance.
The First Mitigation Projects:
|Sasabe Biological Opinion||Arizona||$2,119,000|
|Organ Pipe Cactus NM Biological Opinion||Arizona||$980,000|
|San Bernardino Valley Mitigation||Arizona||$657,480|
|Rio Yaqui Fish Studies||Arizona||$441,250|
|Peninsular Bighorn Sheep Study||California||$230,000|
|Coronado NM Agave Restoration||Arizona||$274,873|
|Northern Aplomado Falcon Reintroduction |
and Habitat Restoration
|Border-wide Bat Conservation||Arizona||$925,000|