Eight Species at Risk of Extinction in Arizona Due to Trump's Border Wall Construction

Eight endangered or threatened species could be wiped out in Arizona due to the massive amounts of groundwater being extracted to construct President Donald Trump's border wall, a report has revealed.

The desert springs and streams around the San Bernardino national wildlife refuge in south-eastern Arizona provide the only habitat in the U.S. for the endangered Río Yaqui fish, according to The Guardian.

Drought and record high temperatures have already depleted water reserves in the area and experts fear the building of the 30 foot high border wall has done further damage.

The Guardian reported that reduced groundwater levels threaten four species of fish in the region: the Yaqui topminnow; chub; beautiful shiner; and Yaqui catfish. The federally protected Chiricahua leopard frogs, Huachuca water umbel, Mexican garter snakes and Aplomado falcon are also under threat.

"There's good reason to believe that the Yaqui fish's only U.S. habitat is drying up as a result of tens or hundreds of thousands of gallons of groundwater being pumped to build the border wall," Laiken Jordahl, a borderlands campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity, told the newspaper.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Trump has waived dozens of environmental and public health laws to speed up the construction of his border wall through wildlife refuges, national monuments and other protected landscapes.

The Trump administration suspended 28 federal laws that protect clean air, clean water, public lands and endangered wildlife in October, including the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, National Fish and Wildlife Act and Migratory Bird Conservation Act.

As a result, the Center and other wildlife groups have sued to challenge Trump's emergency declaration to fund the wall's construction.

A spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection told The Guardian that it remains "committed to responsible environment stewardship and meeting the intent of these [suspended] laws to the greatest extent possible while allowing the Government to meet its requirements to secure the southern border."

Arizona activists and leaders, including Democratic Congressman Raúl Grijalva, gathered in Tucson to protest the wall earlier this month.

"With his border-wall obsession, President Trump continues disregarding the voices, experiences, and needs of those of us who call the borderlands home," Grijalva said.

"Through environmental waivers and stolen funds, he's building a wall that would divide families, further militarize our communities, and destroy the environmental treasures that make the borderlands unique. I'm grateful to the activists, organizations, and individuals united against this monstrosity, and will continue working to oppose funding for Trump's useless border wall."

A 2017 study by the Center for Biological Diversity found the construction of the wall along the entirety of the nearly 2,000-mile long border between the U.S. and Mexico would have a "disastrous" impact on 93 endangered or threatened species, including jaguars, Mexican gray wolves and Quino checkerspot butterflies.

The study said a wall would block the movement of many species and could lead to the extinction of the jaguar, ocelot, cactus ferruginous pygmy owl and other species.

The Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been contacted for additional comment.

border wall
A Border Patrol officer sits inside his car as he guards the U.S.-Mexico border fence, in Nogales, Arizona, on February 9, 2019. Experts fear the construction of the barrier will wipe out endangered and protected species in Arizona. Ariana Drehsler/AFP via Getty Images