More than half of the border-wall construction since 2016 has been along Arizona

Conservationists say the 400 miles of walls recently built along the U.S.-Mexico border are causing significant ecological damage and blocking the migration routes of threatened species.

“American Scar,” a film documenting the damage done to desert landscapes, will debut online next week, followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director and producers. The short film looks at the destruction caused in Arizona and elsewhere by putting up steel barriers to block migrants and others from entering the country.

Myles Traphagen, borderlands coordinator for the Wildlands Network, said the film is designed to show just how much damage was done to sensitive areas of the region.

“This is aimed at people who are interested in conservation of the border and really highlighting the harms that border-wall construction have inflicted upon protected lands and water and wildlife,” Traphagen explained.

Building the wall and having Mexico pay for it was one of Donald Trump’s major 2016 campaign promises, but billions of American dollars later, fences cover only a small part of the 1,800-mile boundary.

Traphagen pointed out the feds built the majority of fencing along Arizona’s border with northern Mexico. He said most of the construction took place along protected federal lands, such as wildlife refuges and national parks.

“Rainfall is infrequent, there’s not a lot of surface water, so animals have had historical migration routes for tens of thousands of years,” Traphagen emphasized. “Now, we have essentially cut off those historical watering and feeding grounds for a large number of species.”

Traphagen added others taking part in the panel discussion will be director and producer Daniel Lombroso and members of Wildlands Network, Cuenca Los Ojos and the Sky Island Alliance.

“They’re releasing it on April 30 because it’s been on the film circuit like the Big Sky Film Festival, the DC Environmental Film Festival, a slew of other ones,” Traphagen remarked. “There’s also going to be a written article that goes along with the documentary.”

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