destroying smuggler’s gulch

Smugglers Gulch and Tijuana River Valley

I’m standing in the United States as I take this picture. The hills you see are less than a mile to the south but are mostly in Mexico, across the border. The low break in the hills carries the name Smuggler’s Gulch.

The mouth of said gulch has been part of one of the more controversial terraforming projects in progress as we speak, the demonstration of enhanced fencing techniques that is the US-Mexico border fence. Ironic/pathetic isn’t it, that not that many weeks ago the news was buzzing with the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, but here in many of our back yards new walls are going up? I’ll leave discussion of the ethics and human costs of the fence-building mindset to organizations like Amnesty International or even the Catholic Church, but the project’s costs to stuff like nature are pretty steep as well.

Left: This photo by April Reese from a January Land Letter shows much better than my photo just some of the earth moving that went into blocking off this canyon. [ Source ]

When people hear that the Department of Homeland Security is building a fence they might say, oh that’s nice, what harm can a little 15 foot tall fence do? Well, place your nice little 15 foot fence on top of 35,000 truckloads of fill dirt essentially forming an earthen dam designed to contain humans instead of water. Humans have more cognitive ability than water molecules, so what might contain water will just send the humans to the next available crossing point.

The rich coastal chaparral that was here has been bulldozed and buried. Hay wattles with some hydroseeded low-growing plants will be expect to take care of erosion control. Down-slope, the sensitive habitat of the Tijuana River National Estuarine Research Reserve waits to see what’s going to happen once the rains begin.

10 thoughts on “destroying smuggler’s gulch”

  1. That is soooo stupid. Of course, right along with that are the people who made a huge (100 ft) peace sign in the hills around here — out of Pampas Grass!!!

    On days like that, I have to work in the garden for a few hours, and then I calm down and feel better.

  2. Good timing for this post Jim. From what I’ve read, the feds exempted themselves from environmental regs and didn’t properly establish groundcover on the dirt dam. As you noted, it wasn’t designed as a water storage dam so when heavy rains and flooding come there’s a good possibility of damage from water and debris backing up, seepage, and slope erosion.

  3. Sometimes I feel like the more I know, the more I wish I didn’t know it. I’m surprised at how often governments at all levels make ill-informed decisions that frankly aren’t rocket science. There are plenty of people who could have provided the input on this project to avoid a lot of the negative impacts you’re describing.

  4. Stop being dramatic. You do understand that this is called smugglers gulch not as much for the human traffic as for the drug traffic? And while you might say they’ll find another way in, doing nothing is like leaving the door not only unlocked but open to your house. This is at least closing the door, and turning off the big neon sign.

    Also I’m sad they didn’t consult with you on all their projects so I have to hear your complaints on some website (people who commented above), but I have a feeling they didn’t just outlay that much money so they could watch it erode at the first rain….oh wait they didn’t. I know you want to believe the government is just like Veruca Salt, but they do take a little more care in planning than you think.

    also this:
    http://voiceofsandiego.org/environment/article_49684726-19d2-11df-ba69-001cc4c002e0.html

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