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Texas Parks Department Concerned about Border Wall Plan

The state has previously warned that a wall through Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park could force it to close.

A view of Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park in South Texas.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says it’s concerned about the Trump Administration’s plans for a border wall through a South Texas state park.

The Department of Homeland Security says it will waive a variety of environmental laws in order to speed up construction of about 17 miles worth of border barriers and roads in Hidalgo County. This comes a day after the department announced similar waivers for the building of border gates in Cameron County.

The government says about 14 miles of the Hidalgo County project will be segments of wall intended to close gaps in the area’s existing border barriers.

About 8 miles of wall will cut through the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, a local bird-watching destination.

In a statement, a parks and wildlife spokesperson said the department “continues to express concerns to the federal government” about the plan.

“We have expressed these concerns to [Customs and Border Protection], both in person and through public comment opportunities,” said Steve Lightfoot. “We are committed to working with the federal government to find alternative solutions that not only minimize potential impacts, but ones that also help accomplish border security goals while preserving the operational viability of the state park.”

As The Texas Tribune has reported, the state has previously warned that a wall would limit access to the park and cause safety issues that could make it hard to keep open.

Homeland Security maintains there is an “acute and immediate need” for border walls and roads in the area, which the government describes as “an area of high illegal entry.”

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