A sign warns against illegal smuggling in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Lukeville, Arizona.
A sign warns against illegal smuggling in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near Lukeville, Arizona.
Photo: Jim Watson (Getty)

As part of the Trump administration’s latest siege on national monuments, government contractors have started blowing up a mountain on protected lands in Arizona as construction continues on a hallmark of Trump’s presidency: the infamous border wall.

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As reported by the Intercept, dynamiting began this week on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a stretch of the American southwest designated as a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve and previously flagged for the potentially devastating effects the wall could have on its local ecosystems. In a statement provided to the Intercept, U.S. Customs and Border Protection stated that construction would continue until the end of February.

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“The construction contractor has begun controlled blasting, in preparation for new border wall system construction, within the Roosevelt Reservation at Monument Mountain in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector. The controlled blasting is targeted and will continue intermittently for the rest of the month,” the statement said, adding that the agency will “continue to have an environmental monitor present during these activities as well as on-going clearing activities.”

Suffice to say that, given the Trump administration’s environmental record up until now, no one’s holding out hope that this environmental monitor will make expanding the U.S.-Mexico border wall any less of the outright disaster for local wildlife that scientists have predicted it will be for years now.

News of this most recent construction comes soon after the Trump administration finished off plans for two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, after the president signed off on a massive 2-million-acre reduction in 2017.

[The Intercept]

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Gizmodo weekend editor. Freelance games reporter. Full-time disaster bi.

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