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 Post subject: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 25th, 2012, 9:13 am 
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Location: Southern Arizona
Three miles west of Nogales a crew of 40 army engineers are currently constructing a road as access to the border to help Border Patrol. Whether this affects any of our herping spots remains to be seen. Heavy equipment is being run through canyons and around mountains. There may be some environmental concerns, but Homeland Security has operated under a waiver from environmental regulations since 2008. The construction is on National Forest land. This is the first of three phases for this section of road.

"Military units are scheduled to execute four aditional engineering missions in the Nogales area" before Sept. 30, 2012. (Taken from an article in the Green Valley News, 1/25/12.)

TC


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 25th, 2012, 2:07 pm 
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This really stinks. Privatized industry is required to follow entire hundred page bibles issued by NEPA when they begin digging or altering ANY habitat. But when National Security is involved in this type of construction anything goes. Biological Monitors and trained Environmental Impact Engineers are suppose to be on site watching to make sure habitat collaterol damage is kept to a minimum and no species that are considered sensitive or endangered are in harm's way. Buffer zones need to be established outside of construction areas to minimize damage. If you decide to inspect the aftermath of the work of the dozers and backhoes, you maybe saddened by what you could find. From what you posted, it doesn't sound like they did any pre-construction monitoring either.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 25th, 2012, 2:59 pm 
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"The U.S. Forest Service has been included in the project planning and an environmental monitor is on hand to make sure the project stays within the construction easement."

"Even so, environmentalists like Jenny Neeley, conservation policy director at the Tucson-based Sky Island Alliance, say they are worried about the long-term effects of border infrastructure projects that are conducted outside of federal environmental laws."

I may just go down there to take a look at where it's at. We all know there are some sensitive species in the area. Some areas have more than others, including some "protected" species.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 26th, 2012, 4:27 pm 
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If building a road along the border down there will help reduce the illegal human and drug trafficking, and cut down on the violence and the amount of trash these criminals scatter across our pristine deserts, then I'm all for it.

If we sit back and do nothing to curb these illegal activities, then you won't be able to get near the border around Nogales to herp or do anything else. It will become as dangerous and restricted as Organ Pipe, which is an absolute shame.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 26th, 2012, 6:05 pm 
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I'm not making an opinion on the construction, yet, just reporting. Matter of fact, the new road (s) may make it easier for us to get in along the border too, helping us in our quest for Mexican species sneaking in along the border.

TC ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 26th, 2012, 8:23 pm 
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There is no need to turn this thread into a political debate. What is at issue here is alteration of habitat and possible loss of native flora and fauna. There are ways of doing construction to minimize the impact on the environment. That's what is being discussed here; not the intended purpose of the project.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 26th, 2012, 8:40 pm 
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Granted Klawnskale,

I hope that we can achieve the optimal balance of border security and habitat impact. There should certainly be some oversight related to environmental issues but balanced against the myriad issues posed by border infiltration. For that we rely on wise, educated and insightful politicians, free of debt to lobbyists and special interests, so that they may act according to the common well being. It's our choice, our government is a reflection of US as an electorate ...let us not forget that.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 7:17 am 
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klawnskale wrote:
There is no need to turn this thread into a political debate. What is at issue here is alteration of habitat and possible loss of native flora and fauna. There are ways of doing construction to minimize the impact on the environment. That's what is being discussed here; not the intended purpose of the project.



You're right, this is not about a political debate. This forum is not about politics. If it were we'd be fighting 90% of the time. This is a NAFHA forum and about herps and their habitats, herpers, and what we can do for them. I'm purposely leaving out any of my political slants.

One reason this strand should elicit some comments is because the area in question should be close to the hearts of many AZ herpers and folks who visit our state looking for herps and other animals that are close to the border, and as such can be very interesting due to their Mexican affinities. I believe, Klawnskale, that you have kept Oxybelis, one of the cool and interesting herps of the area.

One of the main geographical features of the area, known to most everyone who has ever been to AZ, is Pena Blanca Lake. There is also a stream which feeds into the lake from the Pajarito Mountains. I'm not sure if the construction is west or east of here, probably east due to the distance, but there are some possibilities. One of my concerns of this and future projects is which canyons they will be using.

Last year NAFHA/AZ did a trip to this area along the border. We stopped at the stream that feeds Pena Blanca. I immediately noticed the crayfish in the stream. The stream was bloated due to monsoon rains and was just packed with crayfish. What an ecological disaster, because they are not native and are totally devastating to the native fauna. Is this due to man's intrusions into the area? My point is that our intrusions alter habitat and alters the ecosystem and often sets it up for invasions of alien species.

PS: This strand is unique in the sense that there are sensitive species involved and as such sensitive habitat. Normally we don't talk about sensitive habitat, so we don't draw attention to these types of areas or give information to the wrong people. Thus, I'm trying to be careful about the locations I mention. This can be difficult to do sometimes. Pena Blanca is a very well known feature of the area and a place everyone who comes to the area should visit.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 8:01 am 
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Not only Oxybelis, but I believe Lowland Leopard Frogs, Mexican Spadefoot Toads and Sonoran Mud Turtles can be found in this area.
Unfortunately, crayfish are really hard to control. They breed like crazy and are opportunistic scavengers and predators. Harder to control than bullfrogs; which I know AZ Game and Fish are trying to control. Ever try shooting a crayfish? I have seen crayfish inhabiting remote streams miles away from larger bodies of water where they were most likely introduced.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 8:29 am 
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Illegal drug trafficking is not only a social issue, but an environmental one as well. Take a look at what these people are doing to our forests in California with their illegal pot farms.

California Department of Fish and Game agents are constantly searching out and breaking up these illegal operations in our National Forests and National Parks, most all of them run by illegal immigrants. These people use tons of banned herbicides and fertilizers, and dam up natural streams to divert the water to their crops, all of which are devastating to the natural flora and fauna. This type of activity and the subsequent poaching of the local wildlife that goes along with it is a serious environmental issue. For all I know, the same thing could be happening in the mountains of SE Arizona. It would be foolish to think that it couldn't happen or isn't happening already.

I'm not trying to start a political argument here. I'm only making the point that if we are to protect our security and also protect our wild lands, there has to be some sacrifice. We may have to give up 2% to save 98%. It would be great if we didn't have to sacrifice anything at all, but there are elements out there beyond our control that will not let that happen. Our society and our beloved wild lands are under assault and we have a responsibility to protect both. Unfortunately there will be casualties of different sorts along the way. Building a road along the border may be the least damaging and most effective way to combat the problem.

Maybe the thing to do here is contact the local Army Corps of Engineers commander who is in charge of the project and express your concerns and offer your input.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 8:58 am 
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Steve Bledsoe wrote:
Illegal drug trafficking is not only a social issue, but an environmental one as well. Take a look at what these people are doing to our forests in California with their illegal pot farms.

California Department of Fish and Game agents are constantly searching out and breaking up these illegal operations in our National Forests and National Parks, most all of them run by illegal immigrants. These people use tons of banned herbicides and fertilizers, and dam up natural streams to divert the water to their crops, all of which are devastating to the natural flora and fauna. This type of activity and the subsequent poaching of the local wildlife that goes along with it is a serious environmental issue. For all I know, the same thing could be happening in the mountains of SE Arizona. It would be foolish to think that it couldn't happen or isn't happening already.

I'm not trying to start a political argument here. I'm only making the point that if we are to protect our security and also protect our wild lands, there has to be some sacrifice. We may have to give up 2% to save 98%. It would be great if we didn't have to sacrifice anything at all, but there are elements out there beyond our control that will not let that happen. Our society and our beloved wild lands are under assault and we have a responsibility to protect both. Unfortunately there will be casualties of different sorts along the way. Building a road along the border may be the least damaging and most effective way to combat the problem.

Maybe the thing to do here is contact the local Army Corps of Engineers commander who is in charge of the project and express your concerns and offer your input.


We as a human species are ALL guilty of contributing garbage and laying waste in varying degrees. Regardless of whether it's recreational off road vehicle use,industry, irresponsible camping, drug smuggling, illegal or legal, illegal trash dumping (and not only non citizens are guilty of this) we're all a bunch of selfish primates. Before you decide to point fingers at a specific group of individuals. I suggest you take a kayak trip in the Pacific Northwest in the middle of the ocean and float around the Pacific Gyre. That's YOURS and My refuse floating around in there. Oh wait... I guess if I can't see it. it must not be there...

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 9:12 am 
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Never mind.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 9:38 am 
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Image

:( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( I want to cry...


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 12:29 pm 
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klawnskale wrote:
Not only Oxybelis, but I believe Lowland Leopard Frogs, Mexican Spadefoot Toads and Sonoran Mud Turtles can be found in this area.
Unfortunately, crayfish are really hard to control. They breed like crazy and are opportunistic scavengers and predators. Harder to control than bullfrogs; which I know AZ Game and Fish are trying to control. Ever try shooting a crayfish? I have seen crayfish inhabiting remote streams miles away from larger bodies of water where they were most likely introduced.



All four of the species mentioned are in the area and the list of sensitive species is much longer... :o

Crayfish are a bane to rare AZ native herps, as are bullfrogs. We threw crayfish up onto the road to be run over by passing cars for a good half hour and it didn't even seem to make a dent.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 12:58 pm 
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Steve Bledsoe wrote:
Illegal drug trafficking is not only a social issue, but an environmental one as well. Take a look at what these people are doing to our forests in California with their illegal pot farms.

California Department of Fish and Game agents are constantly searching out and breaking up these illegal operations in our National Forests and National Parks, most all of them run by illegal immigrants. These people use tons of banned herbicides and fertilizers, and dam up natural streams to divert the water to their crops, all of which are devastating to the natural flora and fauna. This type of activity and the subsequent poaching of the local wildlife that goes along with it is a serious environmental issue. For all I know, the same thing could be happening in the mountains of SE Arizona. It would be foolish to think that it couldn't happen or isn't happening already.

I'm not trying to start a political argument here. I'm only making the point that if we are to protect our security and also protect our wild lands, there has to be some sacrifice. We may have to give up 2% to save 98%. It would be great if we didn't have to sacrifice anything at all, but there are elements out there beyond our control that will not let that happen. Our society and our beloved wild lands are under assault and we have a responsibility to protect both. Unfortunately there will be casualties of different sorts along the way. Building a road along the border may be the least damaging and most effective way to combat the problem.

Maybe the thing to do here is contact the local Army Corps of Engineers commander who is in charge of the project and express your concerns and offer your input.



Steve, although illegal drug running is a problem along with illegal immigrants, I haven't heard of any illegals trying to grow drugs here in s.e. AZ. I sympathize with you over the problem in s. CA and agree it's something we should deal with to help save the environment, etc.

I don't think anyone's trying to say they have a problem with BP or the road that's going in. I think we are just reporting the event and discussing what effects it might have on the environment or herping in the area. It's kind of a new topic as far as I know. The road to the border will make it easier for BP to get to the border to do their jobs, so not as much hiking in. This area west of Nogales is already heavily patrolled by BP. I would think this is going to make illegals look for other areas to cross at.

The person in charge of the project is Lt. Michelle Zak, according to the article. The agency that coordinated the mission is the Dept. of Defense's Joint Task Force North (JTF North). Doesn't seem to be anyway to contact them directly; but Dept. of Homeland Security sponsored a public forum in Dec, 2010, which laid out the technical details and environmental analysis that had gone into the planning of the agency's border road and fence projects in and around Nogales.

I haven't been able to check out Homeland's forum, yet, but will try to look for it later.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 27th, 2012, 9:16 pm 
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Terry

How wide of an easement are we talking about for this roadway?I can't imagine it being very wide.

Klawnscale / Steve - I will keep my politics out of this. If you wish to debate your topics could you do it through pm's please?

Thanks

Dave


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 8:55 am 
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I was not the one discussing politics. I made every attempt to keep this as an environmental issue. Fortunately, through my use of an
environmental comparison,nipped it in the bud real fast. The only way your group is going to effectively influence any environmental impact issues assosciated wth this project is to work in tandem with someone such as Cecil Schwalbe of the USGS or Phil Rosen who I believe works with FWS. They are local to you and very approachable. It might be alot tougher for you to accomplish this just as NAFHA. Never hurts to have a couple of respected bios on your side. The NPS refused to issue your group a scientific permit for surveying. What makes you think your influential clout has changed any since then?


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 11:08 am 
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Biker Dave wrote:
Terry

How wide of an easement are we talking about for this roadway?I can't imagine it being very wide.



There was a picture in the paper, along with the article that showed a hillside being cut into. The road looked about twice as wide as the bulldozer.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 11:17 am 
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klawnskale wrote:
I was not the one discussing politics. I made every attempt to keep this as an environmental issue. Fortunately, through my use of an environmental comparison,nipped it in the bud real fast. The only way your group is going to effectively influence any environmental impact issues assosciated wth this project is to work in tandem with someone such as Cecil Schwalbe of the USGS or Phil Rosen who I believe works with FWS. They are local to you and very approachable. It might be alot tougher for you to accomplish this just as NAFHA. Never hurts to have a couple of respected bios on your side. The NPS refused to issue your group a scientific permit for surveying. What makes you think your influential clout has changed any since then?



K-S, no mention was made of trying to influence anyone. We do not have a political group. That's not what NAFHA is about, imo. I don't think there's anything we can do about the fact that a gov. agency is working down there. We're just reporting the event here and having a small discussion. Don't even know what the effects will be at present.

It's been my experience that people with influence and projects to do have very little interest in reptiles and amphibians. Even AZG&F seems to have little interest in the herps around my area, except to get our contributions to their income for their programs. They do oppose the mine going in here in the Santa Ritas, however, and I'm grateful for that.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 4:02 pm 
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Also NPS declined our permit strictly because we put in the application that we might be handling the animals. THAT is the only reason it was declined.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 28th, 2012, 7:38 pm 
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Terry: it sounds like you haven't been talking to the right Game and Fish representatives. If you need names of individuals who work for AZ Game and Fish whose specialty is herps let me know and I can
message them to you.Afew of them are members of SW PARC. They will be more empathetic toward topics related to herp conservation.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 2:40 am 
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klawnskale wrote:
Terry: it sounds like you haven't been talking to the right Game and Fish representatives. If you need names of individuals who work for AZ Game and Fish whose specialty is herps let me know and I can
message them to you.Afew of them are members of SW PARC. They will be more empathetic toward topics related to herp conservation.


Wouldn't mind getting in touch with those people myself, as my attempts to get in touch with any representative has remained unanswered so far.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 7:42 am 
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Randy Babb is just returning from a trip oversees so his emails may be a bit delayed.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 7:50 am 
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You also might try contacting Christina Jones. She has a keen personal interest in Kinosternum.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 8:04 am 
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klawnskale wrote:
Terry: it sounds like you haven't been talking to the right Game and Fish representatives. If you need names of individuals who work for AZ Game and Fish whose specialty is herps let me know and I can
message them to you.Afew of them are members of SW PARC. They will be more empathetic toward topics related to herp conservation.



Thanks! :beer:

I have a friend who used to work for AZG&F, but doesn't live in AZ anymore. He was the only G&F officer who ever bothered to work the Ritas, that I know of. I've heard about some others interested in herps, such as R. B., but I appreciate the offer for contacts.

My comment was meant to refer to the attitude of LE in general, even though I might not have said it that way. As we know, many officers don't know one herp from another either... ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 4:18 pm 
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Terry: Randy and Christina are NOT Game and Fish Law Enforcement. They are Game and Fish Biologists. They are not the police and their purpose is to study and help to understand what environmental issues can affect species of concern or those that need protection. It would be more productive to approach them regarding the road project rather than law enforcement officers. LE has little to do with such issues.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 29th, 2012, 6:49 pm 
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K-S: Ok, I didn't realize that. If any questions arise, I'll give them a call... 8-)


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 5:31 pm 
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It's mighty difficult to separate an environmental impact discussion from politics. Part of that is because this road is a concrete (pun intended) political statement. Our main thrust may be environmental in nature, but to completely segregate politics from the equation would be akin to trying to separate peanut butter from jelly.

That said, I have no idea how much area we're talking about, but I do know that wildlife is remarkably resilient...While there are sensitive species there and it is a concern, I wouldn't be surprised to see the vast majority of species eventually adapt.

-Kris


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 6:25 pm 
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azatrox wrote:
It's mighty difficult to separate an environmental impact discussion from politics. Part of that is because this road is a concrete (pun intended) political statement. Our main thrust may be environmental in nature, but to completely segregate politics from the equation would be akin to trying to separate peanut butter from jelly.


Kris, I hear ya', but the problem I have with politics is that we have so many folks that feel strongly one way or the other, and when we start arguing about the political rightness of something it often turns into a shouting match. Just my opinion, I'm not running the forum or the chapter, I'm just the moderator here.

Quote:
That said, I have no idea how much area we're talking about, but I do know that wildlife is remarkably resilient...While there are sensitive species there and it is a concern, I wouldn't be surprised to see the vast majority of species eventually adapt.

-Kris


I agree Kris. Most species will adapt. This first road is 0.7 mile long. Hopefully it won't be in a canyon that has permanent or semi-permanent water. For a couple species it depends which canyon it is and there may be several canyons dug up before it's over. I hope it doesn't affect any of our favorite spots.

Terry :)


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: January 31st, 2012, 8:44 pm 
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IMO... if all that is being built is a roadway than I think the amount of habitat loss would be in the negligible realm in the grand scheme of things.

I think the IA's running roughshod all over the desert creating new trails, leaving trash, and hazardous waste behind is the bigger problem.


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 1st, 2012, 6:19 am 
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Well, we don't know the exact spot, yet, so the species affected aren't certain, and we don't know how many roads will be put in eventually. One thing I do suspect is that it will allow more herpers to get closer to the border if they use these roads, unless BP restricts the usage. Herping on and along roads has always been a big thing, especially for folks not used to the area. Also, one thing I've been worried about is the quality of the habitat. If it's just desert, it's not that big of a deal; but if it interupts the flow of a stream, then we'd have a bigger problem. I just don't know, yet, but will be relieved to know if it's in an obscure place.

I'm not commenting on whether it's right or not, a good idea or not, I'm just interested in the impact it will make on the herps and herping.

TC :crazyeyes:


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 1st, 2012, 7:18 am 
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I would say there's three main types of habitat in the area: montane, low elevation thornscrub, and riparian. The roads are likely to be in the montane habitat, or the Pajarito Mtns. The reason I say this is because I think the illegals use this habitat more than low elevation and because the mission commander spoke of, "maneuvering large earth movers around the mountains, canyons and ravines."


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 1st, 2012, 5:50 pm 
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Who knows? Maybe they'll pave all the roads in that area and make it much easier for BP to get around... :roll:

-Kris


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 1st, 2012, 6:54 pm 
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If the road is one that strictly follows the border, it is highly likely they will keep non BP traffic off to make it easier to detect illegal activity.

Is there a map somewhere of this road?


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 1st, 2012, 10:10 pm 
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azatrox wrote:
Who knows? Maybe they'll pave all the roads in that area and make it much easier for BP to get around... :roll:

-Kris



LOL... :P


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 1st, 2012, 10:13 pm 
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Biker Dave wrote:
If the road is one that strictly follows the border, it is highly likely they will keep non BP traffic off to make it easier to detect illegal activity.

Is there a map somewhere of this road?



I don't think it follows the border, Dave. I think it's perpendicular to the border, but it doesn't actually say that in the article. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to check it out one of these days soon.

TC ;)


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 2nd, 2012, 8:45 am 

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This road is unnecessary..it is a sham to make you believe the
govt is doing all it can to catch & stop illegals when in fact it is not..
The BP have their hands tied..The ones that actually do their jobs
as they are supposed to be done are either given desk jobs or reprimanded..The Govt, all the way to Washington is making BIG $$
on the illegal drugs coming over the border, this is fact altho many will not want to agree about this but its true..I was just down by Douglas in the lower end of the chiricahuas a cpl months ago & was able to talk to a few local ranchers there who live with these problems daily..I was on the ranch bordering Rob Krenz' property (the rancher killed by an illegal) and heard many a horror story..We were camped at the mouth of Price Cyn about 1/2 mile from a BP encampment..Every night we had illegals carrying drugs go right by both camps w/no arrests being made..The BP here had very expensive and state of the art equipment w/them for night monitoring yet never caught any of these illegals..I could go on & on about stories here, but bottom line is, if the Govt wanted this problem stopped, they could stop it..But the $$ runs too hi up the ladder to too many hi up officials..
I wasnt trying to get political, just saying that in reality, another road is not necessary in the grand scheme of things..It's just another smoke-screen, but since it will be here now, maybe it will turn into a good access rd to otherwise inaccessable areas..Of course it may make access to the US easier for sum of the illegal drug runners too..so just be careful in all those areas..


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 2nd, 2012, 10:09 am 
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Joined: June 8th, 2010, 8:08 am
Posts: 2190
Location: Southern Arizona
Well, whether you were trying to be political or not, as one person stated, this strand is political in nature. Some will be for the roads, some will not. Please, no more comments about Border Patrol. There will be both camps. The point remains that the road is there, and there will likely be more roads. All the affects of these roads is not known, but it will surely affect our herping somehow. Hopefully it will allow access to some habitat that will be good for herping, but, I for one, won't be going down there unguarded...

;) TC


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 2nd, 2012, 1:58 pm 

Joined: August 14th, 2010, 11:38 am
Posts: 72
or unarmed......


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 Post subject: Re: Road building along the border...
PostPosted: February 10th, 2012, 4:07 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:27 am
Posts: 162
Location: Tucson, AZ
In an attempt to keep this about the environment and herps...

Both would be better off if we would just legalize drugs and have employer-based checks for citizenship. Then all travel would be on highways that are already established and we wouldn't have trash all over our natural areas. We'd save billions of dollars by getting rid of BP, emptying prisons, etc. And we could tax the drugs. Maybe some of the revenues could go to conservation. Who knows. But the drug war makes no sense and hurts our herps.

Mike


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