I hope you’re staying as cool as possible in this relentless heat. Some of you have gotten some rain, fewer a lot of rain, and most no rain, but hang in there…it’s coming.
So Water, Border Security, Fever Ticks, and Chronic Wasting Disease will be my focus in this month’s Landline addition.
I attended the Brush Country Groundwater Conservation District board meeting last month to hear how their leadership thinks we will be affected by Rep. Lyle Larson’s legislation, HB 722 that passed this session. Its purpose is to have the state (Texas Water Development Board) have oversight of brackish groundwater development in areas where there are large amounts of brackish groundwater. Its wording is confusing at best and it adds a layer of regulation that was not needed, since the Groundwater Conservation Districts are set up for that purpose. The bill specifically calls out two large areas of brackish water, one in Central Texas and one in our own backyard in Brooks County. Here are just two examples of its requirements: the bill requires a district to submit an application to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and requires the TWDB to conduct a technical review of the application and to submit a report of the review of the application that includes certain findings and recommendations. The bill prohibits the district from scheduling a hearing on the application until the district receives the report from the TWDB. It was disheartening that the larger Ag groups did not oppose it. We shall see who’ll be the first to address it in the courts.
The current border security crisis that is the result of the humanitarian crisis is downright scary. At least there was some recent relief with the bipartisan approval of over four billion dollars to care for the masses of humanity entering into the U.S. illegally, but that’s a short term band aid. How can Congress make a real difference? And is Congress willing to actually fix the loopholes currently driving the influx?
At last month’s landowner/Border Patrol meeting at the McAllen Border Patrol Station, the Patrol Agent in Charge earnestly shared the Border Agents plight with the landowners, asking for their help and understanding. One landowner, whose large mesquite tree was being use by large groups of family units that crossed the river as a safe haven waiting to be picked up by Border Patrol, was asked and gave permission to the Border Patrol to set up a tent next to the tree so that they could process them before transporting them to the holding facility to help cut down on wait time.
So here are some stats: out of the just over 600 agents in the McAllen area of responsibility, 60 percent of them have been taken off the line to transport, process, and care for the family units and unaccompanied minors giving themselves up at the border. Take the remainder of the 40 percent and divide that by three (three work shifts in a 24 hour period) to come up with around 80 agents that are left dealing with the 55 miles of border in that area of responsibility. In addition, the Border Patrol is now doing DNA testing on the children of the family units. The startling results are that approximately 70 percent of those children are not genetically connected to the family units with whom they are traveling.
And to make things even more disheartening, the Border Patrol is getting a bad rap from certain Congressmen and women and some media for an issue not of their own making. For over a year, the Border Patrol has been alerting Congress about the situation, but to no avail. Congress is responsible and Congress should act with immediate action to close the immigration loopholes so that Border Patrol can once again get back to what they were trained for, securing the border.
Yesterday we hosted Diamond and Silk for a landowner roundtable, to discuss challenges for landowners that reside near Border Patrol checkpoints. Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, popularly known as Diamond and Silk, are American live-stream video bloggers, social media personalities, political activists and Fox Nation hosts. They had been touring the RGV Border Patrol Sector for two days priors to yesterdays meeting. We found them earnest and sincere in their efforts to understand all aspects of border security issues on the southern border. Thank you to the landowners and law enforcement who participated and offered input at yesterday’s roundtable discussion.
A recent Cattle Fever Tick Roundtable Stakeholder meeting was held in Laredo with Under Secretary Greg Ibach about the USDA Marketing and Regulation Programs. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss creating a buffer zone with Mexico on the Mexican side to mirror the U.S. buffer zone. Also discussed was the current research being done on cattle vaccines, long-lasting topical and injectable therapies, biological treatments for white tailed deer and Nilgai Antelope, and the omnibus funds that were dedicated for all research and treatments. The meeting was very well attended by stakeholders and the big take-away for Mr. Ibach was that USDA’s sister agencies, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the International Boundary and Water Commission, need to become partners and do a much better job controlling cattle fever tick on wildlife.
And lastly on the issues, as more and more states are affected by Chronic Wasting Disease, more press and information has been forthcoming. Consequently, more citizens are becoming aware and concerned with our just cause. In an important win for conservation, the public’s ownership of wildlife was affirmed by a recent decision from the Texas Court of Appeals, Third District in the Bailey, Peterson v. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, et al. case. The decision can be read here.
I’d like to remind you that our Annual Meeting & Fundraiser is fast approaching on October 3rd. As this is our only big fundraiser of the year, I would like to ask that you please support us with your silent and live auction donations, your presence, your time, and your greenbacks. We appreciate all of you!
Thank you members, with your help, we CAN make a difference!
Until next month,