The River and the Wall

Austin Alvarado insta

Last month I was blessed in having the opportunity to meet the River and the Wall feature documentary team in Austin.    I spent two days with Ben Masters, Hillary Pierce, Austin Alvarado, and Jay Kleberg sharing everything I knew about Big Bend National Park and the long proposed US International Park with Mexico.   I was so happy to meet these folks and to learn about all the great projects they are working on to help Texans and people around the world connect with our natural treasures and learn about the Rio Grande and how one of the most endangered rivers in North America is threatened by Trump’s border wall.  The film will be released sometime in 2019 and will take viewers for a wild adventure through one of the most rugged landscapes in North America.  The wall threatens not only America’s natural heritage, but also one of the most biologically diverse regions on the continent.  I hope it doesn’t happen, but if it does the film might end up documenting the last visuals of the river valley before a wall is constructed and the Rio Grande is changed forever.

Over the past two years I have been meeting with a small group of people who care about protecting large open spaces in West Texas, New Mexico and northern Mexico.   We call the region we are focusing on the Greater Big Bend.   One of the exciting projects we are just getting started with is a Chihuahuan Desert Conference planned for the first week of November, 2019.  We are looking for new members to help plan this important meeting and just help get the word out that we exist as a new group.   If you are interested in a new challenge or just the opportunity to network and support a regional conservation group like this, the Greater Big Bend Coalition might be just right for you.

Prior to moving to El Paso I worked in our national parks including Big Bend National Park, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Yellowstone National Park.   During my 25 years working in the parks I discovered that no park is an island and that the lands protected in parks are acutely connected to the lands around them.  As a result what happens outside a park can have a serious impact on wildlife living in a park as numerous species travel across park boundaries in order to find food, water, habitat and potential mates.   Biologists call these travel routes wildlife corridors and here in El Paso we can see every day how wildlife corridors are being destroyed by human development of all sizes.  The threats to wildlife corridors are very real and those threats are almost everywhere.

In order to help build bridges to facilitate relationships with land managers, researchers and stakeholders from all walks of life, we have invited speakers to come to El Paso to help us better understand and connect with the entire region.   To learn more about our group I would like to invite you to meet others and hear a presentation from the Superintendent of Davis Mountains State Park at 2pm on Saturday, May 19 at the Northeast Regional Command Center on Dyer.   To learn more about this meeting and more about our group check out our website at

Left to right: Hillary Pierce, Rick LoBello, Ben Masters

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