"Homeland Security" vs. Sensitive Habitats


California's Coastal Commission is trying to stymie Department of Homeland Security plans to build fortifications along the U.S/Mexico border near the California coast. An excerpt from the San Diego Union-Tribune account:

The plans call for two additional fences running parallel to the 11-year-old corrugated steel barrier along the border. A patrol road and series of lights run between the first and second fences, and a maintenance road would run between the second and third set of fences.

Much of the environmental concerns stem from the Border Patrol's plans to fill a deep, half-mile long canyon known as "Smuggler's Gulch," with 2.1 million cubic yards of dirt, enough to fill 300,000 dump trucks.

The Coastal Commission said filling the canyon would erode soil near a federally protected estuary that is a refuge for threatened and endangered birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also opposed filling in Smuggler's Gulch.

The Border Patrol said proposed alternatives, such as switchback roads through the gulch, would leave gaps in enforcement. The agency's apprehensions fell to 16,000 last year, a decline of 88 percent since the federal government launched a crackdown in 1994, erecting fences, adding patrols and installing lights and motion sensors.