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Arizona Trail Association Says Border Wall Proposal Threatens Key Section Of Trail

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Larry Simkins/Arizona Trail Association
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The Arizona Trail Association says the Trump administration’s plan to expand its border wall would destroy one of the trail’s most important sites. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The proposed 74-miles of new border barrier would cut through the southernmost section of the Arizona National Scenic Trail in the Huachuca Mountains and Coronado National Memorial. The Trail Association says it would obliterate the starting point of the 800-mile trail, transform the landscape and alter the experience for its tens of thousands of users.

"This location was intentionally selected as the cornerstone of the Arizona Trail because of its wild and scenic nature and also because of its historic significance," says Arizona Trail Association Director Matthew Nelson. "This is where Coronado first crossed into present-day Arizona, shaping the future of Arizona and America as we know it."

Nelson says the construction violates congressional protections for the trail established in 2009. Conservationists also worry the wall would block critical jaguar habitat, threatening the endangered cat’s recovery in the U.S.

Customs and Border Protection announced the plan in March that would include 30-foot steel sections, road construction, lighting, a ground detection system and cameras. A public comment period for the proposal is open until Friday.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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