Could The Arroyo Toad Block Trump’s Border Wall?
December 28, 2017
In 2018, the Trump administration’s efforts to build a border wall may be blocked by a small amphibian which lives in areas where the planned wall is supposed to be built.
Four environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in an effort to stop the building of President Trump’s wall. The Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, and the Center for Biological Diversity have filed suit (you can read the lawsuit here), claiming that construction of the wall would irreparably harm more than a dozen animal and plant species, including the Arroyo toad (Anaxyrus californicus). The toad, as well as all the other species that are listed in the lawsuit, are protected by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act, both which, according to Business Insider, the DHS wants to sidestep in order to build the wall on the California border.
The lawsuit says that construction of the wall would disrupt the migratory patterns of the animal species and block access to the Rio Grande River, a vital water source for these animals.
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"Nobody is above the law. Environmental laws were enacted to protect imperiled wildlife, delicate landscapes, and the American public," Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, said in a statement released to the public last fall when the suit was filed.
According to the Sierra Club, the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have issued waivers to build 14 miles of border fencing near San Diego. In San Diego, DHS waived 37 laws in an effort to extend and replace an existing border wall as well as to construct a prototype wall.
The judge who will decide on the case is Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the justice Trump said could not be fair during the Trump University lawsuit, because Curiel, who was born in Indiana, is of Mexican heritage and is Hispanic.
The Arroyo toad is classified as an endangered species in the United States and is on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species due to habitat destruction. It is a nocturnal species that spends much of daylight hours underground, except during mating season. It is found From Santa Barbara county to northwestern Baja California, mostly along creeks and rivers. It is estimated that the breeding population of this amphibian is less than 3,000 with just six of the 22 known populations of the toads are known to contain more than 12 adults. It is gone from approximately 75 percent of its former range in the United States.