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Skeleton Butterfly (1)On Sunday, May 26, the day before Memorial Day, we are inviting folks near and far to join us on the banks of the Rio Grande at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas to memorialize the river that we could lose if the federal government walls it off from our South Texas communities and from the rest of the United States.

In 2018 and 2019 appropriations bills, Congress allocated the funds to build more than 90 more miles of border walls, enough to wall off most of the rest of the Rio Grande Valley from the river. In addition to losing access to the river that gave life to our communities, these walls go up, people will lose their homes and farms, wildlife habitat will be destroyed, and more migrants and asylum seekers could be pushed into crossing through hostile desert areas where so many have died.

The day will be filled with art, music, and poetry, all expressions of our grief at the losses we face due to the border wall and militarization and of our hope that together we will triumph over the forces of fear and hatred and restore the borderlands and our border communities to health and wholeness.

We will gather at the National Butterfly Center at 4:00 pm for an invocation chant and an opening poem. Then we’ll carry our artworks together to the river as we sing from a prepared songsheet accompanied by musical instruments. Once on the river bank we will work collectively to decorate the altar with our artistic offerings. Music and poetry readings will follow as people enjoy the art and contemplate the Rio Grande.

Everyone is asked to make and bring artworks to carry on procession and to place on an ofrenda or altar next to the river. See our Call for Artists English and Call for Artists Spanish. We will also be hosting public art builds throughout the month of May, so that the members of the community can make their own art.

Children are welcome, and there will be children’s activities at the river.

Camping will be available at the National Butterfly Center on Saturday and Sunday evenings, May 25 and 26, for this special event, so that folks from out of town will have a place to stay, and so that everyone has the unique experience of spending the night next to the beautiful Rio Grande.

In Memoriam Poster English

In Memoriam Poster Spanish

For updated information sign up on the In Memoriam Rio Grande Facebook page.

 

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postcard party

Here are some things you can do to help stop the border wall now.

Keep making phone calls. Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your U.S. senators and representative by name or look them up here. Remember when it comes to the border wall it is important to contact both Democrats and Republicans. During your call, make sure the person you are speaking with knows that you want the representative or senator to oppose any walls, fences, steel slats or other barriers. It is perfectly acceptable to call everyday. The members’ offices will log these calls.

Host a postcard party. Invite friends, neighbors, and coworkers or make arrangements with a club you are a member of. You can host at your home, at a coffee shop, a restaurant during happy hour, or at another community gathering place.

  1. Start your party off with an educational video, such as Think Like a Scientist: Boundaries, or simply read through this factsheet  together.
  2. Have a conversation about the border wall. You may want to write down some questions ahead of time, or simply ask people to share their impressions of the video or factsheet.
  3. Ask people to fill out their name and address on the postcards provided. You can also ask them to write in the name and address of the member(s) of Congress you are targeting, or you can do that for them.
  4. When choosing congressional targets, Democrats are just as important to reach out to as Republicans.
  5. Collect the postcards and encourage participants to hold their own anti-border wall postcard parties, or share the suggestions below for making an even stronger No Border Wall statement.
  6. Encourage participants to take the next step and make phone calls to their senators and representative.
  7. Mail the postcards right away to get the message to your targeted decision maker quickly.

Postcards are available here:

No Wall Postcard 4×4

Border Walls Hurt Border Communities 4×4

You can print them on heavy cardstock and cut them out. You can also purchase additional blank 4×6 index cards and provide supplies for people to make their own homemade cards during the party. You can provide a donation jar to pay for stamps.

***Please note that Congress could formulate legislation at any time, so it’s important to expedite any events you might hold.

Reclaim the River

Reclaim the RiverOn Sunday, August 12 from 9 am to 2 pm people will gather on the banks of the Rio Grande at the National Butterfly Center in Mission, Texas to celebrate the river which made our communities possible. Despite its iconic status as a meeting point between two cultures or the fact that is the region’s only source of fresh water and the anchor of a burgeoning nature tourism and recreation industry, the Trump administration intends to wall off the Rio Grande entirely. And this Spring Congress voted to pay for his wall here with Democratic support.

The threat is almost unimaginable. Residents in Hidalgo County would lose access to the river entirely, except a small segment at Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Seventy percent of the National Butterfly Center’s 100 acres would be walled off, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Executive Director Carter Smith is on record saying that Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park may have to close. Border walls in Starr County are planned for construction in the floodplain, raising the risks of catastrophic flooding on both sides of the river.

The event, Reclaim the River is free, family-friendly and meant to raise awareness of these issues and educate the public about the importance of this important national resource.

Planned activities include sand sculpting by the award-winning artist, Sandy Feet of South Padre Island; Segway test drives by SegValley; guided nature hikes; angler education and fishing for youth; Project WILD Aquatic lessons; guerrilla gardening for pollinators; tug o’ war; a wildlife petting zoo; pet adoptions by Mission Pawsible; and a blessing of the river and the flotilla by Father Roy Snipes of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. There will be lots of ways to take action to help stop the border wall, as well.

All of these activities will take place on the Center’s property south of the levee, where cyclists and joggers are welcome! Families are encouraged to bring their bikes, beach chairs and a picnic.

Sign up and invite your friends on Facebook.

If you are unable to attend but would like to sign and send some postcards to elected officials, you can print these on cardstock:

Save Bentsen postcard

Save National Butterfly Center Postcards

(Check out our directions for holding postcard party!)

It’s more important than ever to show up and show your love for our state park, the Butterfly Center and for our Rio Grande.

Last Saturday dozens of Rio Grande Valley residents spent their morning showing their love for Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park and World Birding Center. They gathered under the shade of beautiful Texas ebony trees to draw attention to the threat posed by the Trump administration’s border wall. This March Congress voted to pay for a levee-border wall that would split the state park in two, destroy acres of native forest, and wall off the state park’s entire trail system.

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At the center of the event were postcards sent by participants to Texas Governor Greg Abbott and U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, who represents the district in which Bentsen is located. They asked the two officials to advocate for the state park and save it from the destruction of the border wall and from possible closure. The crowd generated 113 postcards for each leader, and the campaign is still ongoing.

You can print your own Save Bentsen postcards here!postcard color_edited-1

In addition, local artists donated original drawings of plant and animal species commonly found in the park to create a Bentsen State Park bilingual Lotería. Kids and grownups alike took tours of the park with local naturalists and returned to color in those species on the Lotería card that they had sighted. There was a lot of excitement when one group spotted a Western diamondback rattlesnake, and birders were thrilled to see an Olive-sided flycatcher, just one of the hundreds of species of migrating birds that use Bentsen for a waystation on their journey across two continents.

When the guided tours returned, participants gathered to hear local naturalist and Sierra Club member Tiffany Kersten recount the story of when brothers Lloyd, Sr. and Elmer Bentsen agreed to spare the park from the plow after they grew to appreciate the very ebony grove where the picnic was taking place, and how they donated the land to the state for the enjoyment of all Texans in 1944, with the state park officially opening in 1962.

Then Martha Garcia of the Environmental Awareness Club at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley talked about how her first experience at Bentsen on a school fieldtrip reminded her of her family’s first home in Tamaulipas, México and the importance of being able to connect with that natural heritage.

Border wall expert and Sierra Club member Scott Nicol explained how the levee-border wall would cut off the trails from the Visitor Center and how the plans called for chopping down the native forests 150 feet south of a levee-border wall to create a gravel-covered “enforcement zone.” He also spoke about the danger of the park being shut down for good, noting that the trail system connected to another World Birding Center—the one at Hidalgo Pumphouse in the City of Hidalgo–had been walled off in 2009 and was no longer accessible to the public.

The event wrapped up with families picnicking under the ebonies, whose beauty had compelled the Bentsen brothers to save the forest here for us. The question is, what will we save for future generations?

AlonzoOf the three candidates running for the Texas House District 37 primary race, only one is opposed to the proposed Port of Brownsville LNG export terminals. Arturo Alonzo recognizes that the massive industrial facilities could be a blow to our tourism and real estate industries because they depend on clean air and clean water. He understands that the unsightly tanks and flares and the unhealthy pollution that the LNG companies will bring to our coastline could actually cost us jobs and decrease property values.

Although incumbent Rene Oliveira is placing ads touting his strong environmental voting record, he was an early supporter of LNG and has accepted at least one campaign contribution from Annova LNG. For these reasons we do not recommend voting for Oliveira.

Nor do we recommend casting a vote for Alex Dominguez. As county commissioner, Dominguez voted in favor of giving huge tax breaks to Rio Grande LNG.

While the Sierra Club is not endorsing any of the candidates, the Save RGV from LNG campaign does support Arturo Alonzo, as he is unequivocally opposed to LNG in the RGV.

Early voting ends Friday, March 2 and election day is Tuesday, March 6.

save santa ana bumpersticker

On Saturday, January 27th people from all over the country will gather in the field outside Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, which is threatened by Trump’s border wall. They will be joining South Texans in taking a stand against the terrible damage that border walls will cause to border communities and the borderlands.

If you are not able to get to Santa Ana for the rally, please commit to participate in one or more of the following solidarity actions this week. Click on the links for details:

Spreading the word on social media

Making calls to Congress

Writing a letter to the editor

Santa Ana Solidarity postcard party

There are lots of talking points available in this toolkit. You can also direct questions to dan.millis@sierraclub.org. Thank you very much for standing in solidarity with Santa Ana and with South Texans in opposition to the border wall.

Krista Santa Ana

The fight to stop Trump’s damaging border wall is starting in Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and local organizers are asking people around the country to come to South Texas to join in a rally and concert immediately next to the refuge entrance on Saturday, January 27 from 11 am to 2 pm.

The Trump Administration has announced that if Congress allocates funding for the border wall, the first wall will be built through Santa Ana, flattening acres of habitat, degrading its value to wildlife and ecotourism, and possibly even leading to the closure of the refuge.

Home to more than 400 species of birds and located within the territory of endangered cats like the ocelot and jaguarundi, Santa Ana has been called the “jewel” of the National Wildlife Refuge System because of its stunning diversity. For 75 years it has protected some of the last remaining riparian habitat along the lower Rio Grande River.  Walling through it would be a national tragedy.

The event is being organized in an effort to raise awareness of the imminent threat to Santa Ana and the devastating impacts of any border walls and other security measures on the natural environment in the borderlands, on people’s private property, on important cultural and historical sites, and on border communities. Local organizers want to send the message that border communities are among the safest in the nation and that the push for more border security is based on xenophobic fear rather than reality. They believe that DACA recipients, 1 out of 5 of whom live in the border region, deserve a Clean Dream Act to protect them from deportation and offer them a stable future.

The rally is being held in conjunction with Santa Ana NWR’s 75th anniversary celebration and will feature speakers, musicians, and food, as well as ways to take action. There will also be organized activities in the refuge next door, which is offering free admission for the day.

Please help us distribute flyers for the event: Santa Ana Rally Poster English / handbill version and Santa Ana Rally Poster Spanish/ handbill version Spanish

The event is also listed here on Facebook.

Thank you to our supporting organizations:

ACLU Texas
Action South Texas
Aqui Estamos RGV
AWIA
Border Action Network
bridges across borders
Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley
Center for Biological Diversity
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
Conservationist Wild Rivers Commottee
Defenders of Wildlife
Earthjustice
Friends of Friendship Park
Friends of Laguna Atascosa NWR
Frontera Audubon
Garcia & Garcia Attorneys at Law
Humane Borders
La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)
Neta
PFLAG Harlingen
Proyecto Azteca
Resist the Wall
Sierra Club
Sierra Club Borderlands
Southwest Environmental Center
Texas Civil Rights Project
Wildlands Network
#PoetsAgainstWalls

To be listed as a supporter for the Save Santa Ana Rally fill out this form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACLU Texas
Action South Texas
Aqui Estamos RGV
AWIA
Border Action Network
bridges across borders
Call to Action-Rio Grande Valley
Center for Biological Diversity
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
Conservationist Wild Rivers Commottee
Defenders of Wildlife
Earthjustice
Friends of Friendship Park
FRiends of Laguna Atascosa NWR
Frontera Audubon
Garcia & Garcia Attorneys at Law
Humane Borders
La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)
Neta
PFLAG Harlingen
Proyecto Azteca
Resist the Wall Community Coalition                                                                                                Sierra Club
Sierra Club Borderlands Team
Southwest Environmental Center
Texas Civil Rights Project
Wildlands Network                                                                                                       #PoetsAgainstWalls

If you are interested in being listed as a supporting organization, please fill out this form.