Sunday, November 21, 2010

Enviros Rule U.S. Border Policy

The Truth Emerges
Environmentalism Trumps National Security
By Stephen L. Wilmeth

    Repeated attempts have been made to locate the word environment in the Constitution of the United States . . .
    Long before Rob Krentz’ murder became the marker that introduced the nation to the Bootheel of New Mexico, the rural community of the New Mexico border land knew the influence of the environmental community had grown much stronger than any influence they could maintain.  In dealings with the federal land agencies, the environmental agenda had become the elephant in the room.  That elephant had often been silent, but, its presence, just like any elephant’s presence in a closed room, was distinct and undeniable.
     The Krentz murder was the dreaded eventuality that sparked an expanded debate that had all the features of pent up outrage.  Finally, there was a degree of national inquiry into the problems the border citizens had been facing for years.
    The responses were so predictable that a featured story should have been an assessment of the obligatory glad handing and demonstrative anger that elected officials set in motion. Arizona Senator John McCain took an abrupt turn away from unfettered immigration.  Southeastern Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) rushed to Apache, Arizona and conducted a public forum to get input.  New Mexico District 2 Representative Harry Teague (D-NM) fired off a letter announcing he was going to secure more funding.  New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Tom Udall (D-NM) called for expediting construction of Forward Operating Bases (FOB) so the Border Patrol could be closer to the border in order to reduce the concern of cross border violence.
     Fast forward to the last few weeks of 2010, and an updated assessment of all the Congressional gnashing of teeth reveals exactly what most locals expected would happen . . . a lot of words, but certainly nothing regarding the promised FOB. 
     The Heartland Mandate
     Those in the Bootheel who must live by their wits and attend to their duties, responsibilities, and investments, though, view the midterm elections with a degree of hope.  Can newly elected Steve Pearce (R-NM) join with heartland Congressional leaders and awaken border state leadership to the realities of the drug war, the First Mexican Revolution of the 21st Century?  Can Congress finally start separating their actions from those of hyper liberal special interest groups who have been complicit in the outgrowth of the danger on the border?  There is border citizen hope, but it is couched in distrust of politicians and the historical failures to secure the border.
     The place to start is with the FOB.  Let that discussion begin with the pronouncement to the world that the United States Border Patrol evaluated a number of possibilities including sites at seven miles, 10.5 miles, and 20 miles from the border.  The ownership of those particular alternatives was federal, private, and private, respectively.  As any common sense security expert would have guessed, the current preference for the location is . . . the site furthest away from the border!  If this is the site selected, the FOB will be nestled in the bottom of a canyon and the only clear view from a distance would be that from Animas Mountain.  Animas Mountain is private land that lies behind locked gates to the east. 
     The idea for the FOB to project a physical reminder to illegals not to enter the United States would be discarded.  Its location cannot be seen from any county roads, but that may be exactly the plan by the political power base in the area.
     The Bootheel Project
     The seven mile location is a 40 acre parcel of land already owned by the federal government.  It has nearby electricity and it commands a sweeping view of the border to the south.  Its location projects its presence to the horizons and it would become a constant reminder to all illegals that they are being watched, and they will be hunted down and removed from sovereign American territory if they try to cross the border.  Its location with a full view of the border and the ability to be seen by the modern world, however, is exactly what prompts the elephant to stir and start to flex. 
     The Gray/ Diamond A Ranch, the dominating feature of the area, and the Malpai Borderland Group, a collection of local  ranchers, have created a union dedicated to the long term preservation of the ecological integrity of the area.  To anybody who stands in the immensity of the Bootheel with its physical features of breathtaking proportions, few could disagree with this intent.  But, there is gnawing and growing concern that the long term agenda may not be all that supportive of traditional ranching values that make up the social fabric of the land.  Even participants within the Malpai group are having second thoughts of the real agenda and the dilemma in which they may find themselves.
     At the heart of the Malpai movement are conservation easements that the members have signed for what was represented to them as long term protection measures for the land. Payments were made to the ranchers for the permanent pledge to give up any right to adjust the course of the future management and development of those lands.   The conservation easements which are now in place disallow any obtrusive reminders of mankind.  Mankind, at least the environmentally challenged among the ranks, is not welcome.
"Whatever the forces are that have supported the expansion of wilderness safe havens and contributed to the smuggling corridors that have decimated natural resources along the border, one thing has clearly emerged.  The rules of engagement for national security are softened and dampened when the environmental agenda is present.  Thus, Americans are left with no alternative but to believe that environmentalism trumps national security. "
     Who holds title to the conservation easements and what does a simple life estate promise have to do with long term agendas?  The life of a single rancher is but a blip on the horizon of a long term plan.  The real players in the Malpai movement center on the Nature Conservancy and the current owner of the Gray Ranch.  In both cases, the specter of a foreboding, powerful force is much larger than the stewards who have created the historical character of those lands.
     To Rewilding   
     Every indication seems to be that the open borders, Rewilding Project is the real agenda.  When the Nature Conservancy originally purchased the Gray, there were no Forest Service allotments in the transaction.  The Gray was a superb cattle ranch dominated by private ownership.  It was also an island in a sea of checker boarded landscape with federal, state and private land.
     Today, the Gray controls four of the six historical grazing allotments on the south end of the New Mexico extension of the Coronado National Forest against the Mexican border.  These four allotments remain unstocked raising the concern that the real plan is to retire these allotments that have historically contributed to the existence of many ranch families, enhanced health of these ranching units, and the well being of the local economy. 
     The Forest Service is fully involved in the process.  In fact, the latest NEPA analysis required that the stocking rate of the allotments be dropped nearly 30%.  The Gray Ranch did not contest the results.  This would lead all who know what is going on to recognize that the Forest Service is once again systematically destocking wilderness, only this time it is de facto wilderness and the powerful elephant that is pulling the bus is the newest owner of the majority of the forest allotments.
     The Arizona Class Human and Drug Smuggling Corridors (ACHDSC)
     At a recent meeting of key participants in the FOB discussion, a Border Patrol representative admitted that environmental concerns have made it necessary to back away from the best strategic location for that facility.  But, wait . . .  if it is a wildlife concern, shouldn’t the same wildlife be a concern 13 miles north in the same ecosystem?  If it is a flood plain issue, shouldn’t the same concern exist 13 miles north in the bottom of a canyon, and why is the Border Patrol elevating itself into a position of first determining what is best for the environment.  Their mission must be to secure the border and contribute to the safety of the American people.     
     The agenda is becoming too difficult to hide from public scrutiny, and, in the Bootheel, it is not just the federal land agencies that are complicit in creating national security dangers on the border.  This time the Border Patrol must be added to the list.
     In work done in New Mexico in opposition to S.1689, The Organ Mountains – Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, it was learned that Arizona Class Human and Drug Smuggling Corridors (ACHDSC) are an outgrowth of conditions that included the following:
  1. The corridors have wilderness/de facto wilderness safe havens.
  2. They have east /west highway access north and south of the corridors.
  3. They have rugged and complex north/south mountain and drainage orientation which provides channels of movement.
  4. They are almost entirely or heavily dominated by federal land agency management.
  5. The concentration of American private property rights at risk is limited as is the presence of resident American habitation.
  6. All corridors have high, strategically located points of observation.
     What the Bootheel model of ACHDSC teaches is that characteristic #4 must be modified.  In the Bootheel of New Mexico, the presence of a private property environmental enterprise and a constrained Border Patrol are as dangerous to national security as any governmental land agency when the environmental enterprise alters the unencumbered activity of the Border Patrol!
     This phenomenon becomes a proxy for all the conditions of designated Wilderness in terms of access limitations.  As such, it is de facto wilderness.  In fact, in the Bootheel up until recent days, the statutory authority of Border Patrol to access any private property, at any time, and under any conditions within 25 miles of the border has not been exercised.  Much of the border, from just west of San Luis Pass in New Mexico to the Arizona line, has been locked and the Border Patrol has not aggressively challenged those locked gates. The limited access ties directly to the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge where Border Patrol continues to have the same conditional access existing on the day Rob Krentz was murdered. That day, the murderer escaped back through the refuge into Mexico.  By conditions set forth by USFWS Regional Director, Benjamin Tuggle, the Border Patrol would not have been allowed mechanical entry even if they had known the exact location of the murderer.   
     The Bootheel ACHDSC
     The only ACHDSC outside of Arizona exists in the New Mexico Bootheel.   It is a smuggling corridor that has the potential of being as dangerous as any of the Arizona corridors.  That is why the FOB being discussed is so important.  That is also why it is so perplexing that the Border Patrol seems too often to acquiesce to the preferences of the environmental community.  The question must be asked, “What is driving the decisions?
     If it stems from arraying environmental priorities over those of national security, it runs the risk of exposing America to ever expanding dangers from the drug war and the consequences of an uncontrolled border.  It will also continue to accelerate the degradation of the very resources that the environmental agenda pledges to protect. 
     Whatever the forces are that have supported the expansion of wilderness safe havens and contributed to the smuggling corridors that have decimated natural resources along the border, one thing has clearly emerged.  The rules of engagement for national security are softened and dampened when the environmental agenda is present.  Thus, Americans are left with no alternative but to believe that environmentalism trumps national security.
     At this point, Rob Krentz’ death remains a tragedy of the worst imagined proportions.  His government hopes the memories of this travesty simply fade away.  The collective actions of his government have not changed at all since that fateful day in March of 2010.  His government has demonstrated its real priority on the border, and it isn’t the constitutional mandate to make sure that the border is secure in order to protect the lives of those for which it was written . . . men like Rob Krentz.

Stephen L. Wilmeth is a rancher in southern New Mexico.  He respects leaders like CBP El Paso Sector Chief Randy Hill and Tucson Sector Chief Victor Manjarrez and the difficulty they face.  Given the authority and the backing of the federal bureaucracy, these men and their Patrol force can gain control of America’s southern border.  If Congress fails to give them the tools, support, and full authority to operate, or if the Administration and Congressional leadership waiver on a united national security priority, no sector leadership can prevail in its mission to secure the border.

I'm glad Mr. Wilmeth respects these gentlemen. However, this is the same Border Patrol who tells us that Wilderness on the border is no problem while at the same time they can't even construct an FOB on non-wilderness, multiple-use federal land.  Something just doesn't add up here. If they can't carry out their mission on multiple-use land, what on earth makes them think they can in a Wilderness area?


Anonymous said...

Actions need to be taken immediately by Steve Pearce to either mandate stocking of those allotments or force the Forest Service to move them to Americans who will stock them. The absence of engaged Americans on the border has been demonstrated to be dangerous.

Border Wathcer said...

Terry McMillan wants to be a state leader so it is time he becomes one. The state of New Mexico has played the part of the politically correct dunces and cheered this kind of nonsense. It is time they step up or we need to fire every one of them.

Anonymous said...

When the Nature Conservancy was in the process of purchasing the Grey Ranch their first concern was to relieve the ranch manager and put one of their own on the place. When asked why they would do this they said they wanted to reduce the grazing impact and were concerned the current manager would not support their management style. They refused to recognize the fact that excellent grazing management sustained the ecosystem on the ranch.
How wise is the Fool?