Prop­erty rights group wor­ried about wall in ru­ral ar­eas,

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Asher Price ash­er­price@states­man.com Con­tact Asher Price at 512445-3643. Twit­ter: @ash­er­price

To the list of groups and peo­ple anx­ious about a bor­der wall cut­ting through ru­ral and wild ar­eas of Texas, add one of the state’s most pow­er­ful landowner rights and con­ser­va­tion groups.

The ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the Texas Wildlife As­so­ci­a­tion an­nounced this week that it is “con­cerned that a phys­i­cal bar­rier along the ru­ral Texas/Mex­ico bor­der would re­sult in sub­stan­tial con­dem­na­tion of pri­vate prop­erty by em­i­nent do­main, in­ter­rupt land- owner/live­stock/wildlife ac­cess to water from the Rio Grande, harm prop­erty val­ues, and im­pair crit­i­cal wild- life move­ment cor­ri­dors for species such as black bears, moun­tain lions, white-tailed and mule deer, and desert bighorn sheep, among oth­ers.”

The Texas Wildlife Asso- cia­tion counts 10,000 mem­bers who own or man­age 40 mil­lion acres in Texas — an area larger than the state of Florida.

While the Wildlife Asso- cia­tion ex­ec­u­tive com­mit- tee state­ment also said the or­ga­ni­za­tion “sees merit in phys­i­cal bar­ri­ers at strate- gic lo­ca­tions, such as met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas” and that smug­gling traf­fic is “mas­sively dis­rup­tive to ranch­ing, wildlife, and land man­age­ment prac­tices,” it was the lat­est sug­ges­tion that a bor­der wall will meet re­sis­tance from in­flu­en­tial quar- ters in Texas.

Gov. Greg Ab­bott, for one, has said he is against a wall through the Big Bend, as has U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, who rep­re­sents that West Texas area. En­vi­ron­men­tal groups and wildlife sci­en­tists also have an­nounced their op­posi- tion.

With much of the Texas-Mex­ico bor­der in the hands of pri­vate landown- ers, the Texas Wildlife Asso- cia­tion state­ment sug­gests landown­ers may be in for a show­down with the White House.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra- tion is seek­ing $4.1 bil­lion over the next two years to be­gin con­struc­tion of a wall on the Mex­i­can bor­der, as well as money to hire 20 more Jus­tice De­part­ment lawyers to “ob­tain the land” for the wall.

KELLY WEST / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

A real es­tate sign in front of the bor­der fence last month in Brownsville ad­ver­tises river­front prop­erty. The Texas Wildlife As­so­ci­a­tion has ex­press con­cern about the im­pact of a new bor­der wall on ru­ral pri­vate prop­erty.

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