A Texas butterfly sanctuary is trying to fight Trump’s border wall


A butterfly sanctuary in Texas is suing the Trump administration over what it claims is illegal border wall construction on its property — and, according to the sanctuary’s leadership, the suit is about a lot more than butterflies.

The National Butterfly Center spans 100 acres in South Texas, and is home to what it says is the “the greatest volume and variety of wild, free-flying butterflies in the nation.” It’s also home to native plants, endangered wildflowers and other species native to the area near the Rio Grande — and serves as a crucial stop for Monarch butterflies on their migration through the region.

According to the Texas Observer, back in July, Marianna Treviño-Wright, the center’s executive director, discovered a work crew mowing down brush and using a chainsaw to fell trees on the center’s property.

As the Observer reported on Tuesday, the crew had been contracted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to clear the path for a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The border wall was one of President Donald Trump’s key campaign trail promises — and has stuck around despite challenges, including an estimated cost of more than $20 billion and lack of enthusiasm among Texans.

On Monday, the National Butterfly Center filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, alleging that, by beginning work on the center’s property, the agencies had ignored processes required by the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Constitution.

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Where the wall already exists along the US-Mexico border
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Where the wall already exists along the US-Mexico border
A gap in the U.S.-Mexico border fence is seen outside Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
U.S. customs and border patrol officers inspect a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico at the border crossing in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
U.S. customs and border patrol officers inspect a vehicle entering the U.S. from Mexico at the border crossing in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
Men talk on a street in the town of Calexico, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A U.S. customs and border patrol officer stands at a border crossing in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Recent arrivals from Mexico wait to board a greyhound bus in San Ysidro, California, United States, October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Highway 82 towards Douglas, Arizona is seen near Sonoita, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
Clouds float above the border towns of Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A sign warning drivers that firearms and ammunition are prohibited in Mexico is seen at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Buildings in Nogales, Mexico (R) are separated by a border fence from Nogales, Arizona, United Sates, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An abandoned car sits off the side of a road near Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A worker makes his way through the water after setting up an irrigation system on an agricultural field, near Calexico, California, U.S. October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An abandoned car sits off the side of a road near Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A church at the Museum of History in Granite is seen in Felicity, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A man drives a tractor plowing a field at sunrise near Calexico, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
Residential homes are seen next to the fence that borders Mexico, in Douglas, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Pedestrians wait to cross the street in Calexico, California, Unites States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The town of Bisbee is seen in Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Pedestrians make their way into the the United States from Mexico at the pedestrian border in Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A roadside collection of alien dolls and toy UFO saucers is seen next to a roadside residence neat Jacumba, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A road abruptly ends next to a sign for a cattle ranch near Douglas, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A boy rides an all-terrain vehicle next Mexican border along the Buttercup San Dunes in California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
An old refurbished gas station is seen in Lowell, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A man rides a tricycle past a grocery store in a town that borders Mexico, in San Luis Butter, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A U.S. customs and border patrol truck drives past the fence that marks the border between U.S. and Mexico, in Calexico, California, United States, October 8, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
A truck drives west towards California along highway 8 near Gila Bend, Arizona, United States, October 10, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Electronic items are displayed in a shop window in Calexico, California, United States, October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A residential home is seen in Nogales, Arizona, United States, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake 
A fence separates the border towns of Nogales, Mexico (R) and Nogales, Arizona, United Sates, October 9, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake
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According to the Observer, the NEPA requires that the government perform an “environmental assessment” before beginning a project that could impact environmental resources.

According to the lawsuit, the proposed wall would cut off about two-thirds of the center’s property. Jeffrey Glassberg, president of the North American Butterfly Association, which runs the National Butterfly Sanctuary, told the Observer on Tuesday that, “We believe the federal government has been behaving illegally and in a really egregious fashion in many different ways, so we’re seeking an injunction to try and have the courts make them behave in a way that is consistent with the law and the constitution.”

Glassberg said that the lawsuit deserves attention regardless of whether you care about butterflies. “We understand that not everyone in the country may be as interested in butterflies or in the environment as we are ... But everyone should care when the government thinks it can do whatever it wants on your private property.”

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