Border wall construction to restrict access to the Arizona Trail

Arizona Republic (July 10, 2020) by Rafael Carranza

Preparations to begin installing 30-foot steel bollards through pristine mountain wilderness along the Arizona-Mexico border south of Sierra Vista will begin as early as Monday, according to conservationists critical of border wall construction in protected federal lands.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced Thursday they would close access starting on July 13 to a popular hiking trail located in the Coronado National Memorial in southern Arizona in order to begin pre-construction activities, Matthew Nelson said.

He’s the executive director for the Arizona Trail Association, which looks after the 800-mile-long route that begins at the international boundary in the Memorial and extends north to the Arizona-Utah state line. The non-profit submitted public comments in opposition to the project, and mobilized its supporters to do the same.

“As an association, our mission is to protect the trail and I feel like we failed in our mission, quite honestly,” he said.

Customs and Border Protection set up a call with the group Thursday to notify them of their construction plans and provide more details about their projected timeline for the project to install bollard fencing near the base of the Huachuca Mountains.

The agency told them they had received more than 7,000 comments from the public specifically about construction at the Coronado National Memorial, Nelson said.

“But it wasn’t enough to stop wall construction,” he added.

The Arizona Republic reached out to Customs and Border Protection for comment. The agency acknowledged the request, but had not responded as of Friday afternoon.

Nelson said that during Thursday’s call, top officials overseeing border wall construction in Arizona told them the project would be moving “very quickly.”

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