The Trump administration has sparked outcry in Arizona after video posted on social media confirmed development crews tasked with constructing President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall bulldozing down a number of the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument’s most “iconic” cacti.
Speaking to Newsweek, Kevin Dahl, the Arizona senior program supervisor for the National Parks Conservation Association who captured the viral video of the park’s Saguaro cacti being mowed down, mentioned he was “heartbroken and outraged” after witnessing the incident. “At that point, what they were doing was destruction, not construction,” he mentioned.
For many years, Dahl mentioned, Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument has been acknowledged within the U.S. as a protected area. Both a U.S. National Monument and a UNESCO biosphere reserve, the park has lengthy been recognized by native indigenous teams, together with the Tohono O’odham Nation, as sacred land.
Meanwhile, archaeologists have sought to protect the 16,000 years of human historical past that the monument incorporates, whereas environmentalists have fought to guard the vary of endangered species and cactus crops that decision it dwelling.
Despite the monument’s clear non secular, historic and environmental significance, nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security has waived various legal guidelines in a determined bid to appreciate Trump’s promise to see as many as 450 miles of border wall constructed earlier than the top of 2020.
So far, the DHS nonetheless seems to have greater than 380 miles to go and, consequently, cries to see land just like the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument spared from development have fallen largely on deaf ears.
“Anybody who lives on the border knows that walls don’t stop anything. People go over, under or through them, despite them making it a little harder in some places,” Dahl mentioned. “The only possible explanation for this is that a presidential candidate made a promise that he should not have made.”
Sharing Dahl’s video of the destruction on the park, activist Laiken Jordahl additionally lamented that Trump’s border wall was being constructed “through the most pristine Sonoran Desert ecosystem anywhere on the planet.”
“Endangered species, Indigenous sacred sites and wilderness lands are being destroyed before our eyes,” he mentioned.
Jordahl additionally took particular goal on the Trump administration for permitting development crews to mow down saguaros, asserting that “Trump’s reckless border hysteria is destroying our environment and killing the very species this national monument was designated to protect.”
While the nationwide monument is called after the organ pipe cactus, or Stenocereus thurberi, and is the one place within the U.S. the place the plant species might be seen rising naturally, various fellow cacti, together with the Saguaro, name the monument dwelling.
In reality, with its tree-like stature, the Saguaro cactus is extensively thought of an iconic picture of the southwest, with the saguaro blossom being the state wildflower of Arizona.
Native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, in addition to the Mexican State of Sonora and the Whipple Mountains and Imperial County areas of California, the Saguaro can dwell as much as 150 to 200 years and might develop as much as be as much as 40 ft tall, as the most important cactus within the U.S., in response to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Environmentalists are additionally removed from alone in calling for saguaro cacti to be spared from the Trump administration’s border wall undertaking, with the plant species additionally being of nice significance to the Tohono O’odham Nation, whose reservation sits on the periphery of the park.
On Friday, Hon’mana Seukteoma, an indigenous activist and YouTuber lamented the devastation attributable to Trump’s border wall bid, writing on Twitter: “In O’odham stories, ha:sañ (saguaro cactus) are our people.”
“They give us so many blessings and we respect them so deeply,” the activist mentioned. “Seeing this ha:sañ ripped out of the ground for this border wall construction breaks my heart. The Tohono O’odham Nation doesn’t want this border wall!”
“We don’t want this border wall for the destruction and desecration of the land it will bring to us,” Seukteoma mentioned in a following publish.
Despite widespread opposition, nevertheless, the Trump administration has sought to push forward with its aim of seeing as many as 450 miles of boundaries constructed earlier than the top of 2020.
Newsweek has contacted Seukteoma, Jordahl, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection company, which is overseeing the border wall’s development, for remark for this text.