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Refuge Soil Samples UInder Review for Border Infrastructure

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ALAMO – Samples of soil from the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge are currently under review by the federal government.

The refuge is located near the Rio Grande south of Alamo, Texas. It’s home to some potential extinct wildlife, bird watchers and outdoor enthusiasts.

Several Rio Grande Valley residents, like Christina Fischer, said they find its nature to be peaceful.  

"It’s a stress reliever because I’m going through a lot right now in my life,” she said.

Fischer said she just started to visit Santa Ana and now she’s bringing her co-workers for peaceful consultation in the brush.

She found out about a border wall going through the refuge on social media.

"I mean, it's natural wildlife. Don't build it right through, you know. (It’s) something I finally love and they’re building a wall right through it,” said Fischer.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Public Affairs Officer Roderick Kise explained the soil testing is being done under the federal government’s fiscal year 2017 budget. 

Kise sent CHANNEL 5 NEWS the following statement about the soil sampling in the wildlife refuge, which reads in part:

“Michael Baker & Associates is under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to gather geotechnical data at sites in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Border Patrol Sector of Texas and other locations through the southwest border. A drilling rig was used to gather soil samples along the existing alignments. The data will assist CBP in future planning. No FY18 construction projects will begin without an approved budget.”

Kise said the fiscal year 2018 budget consists of many projects to increase border infrastructure.

“There have been preliminary meetings for projects under the enacted FY17 budget and projects that we have requested funding for under the FY18 budget,” he said.

For the requested fiscal year 2018 budget, CBP said they’ve prioritized 28 miles of new levee wall system in the Rio Grande Valley, 32 new miles of border wall system in the Valley and 14 miles of replacement secondary barrier in San Diego through the Border Patrol requirements analysis process.

Fischer said he’s asking for the government’s reconsideration.

"Even if it isn't coming soon, I wish, even if they have to build it – if they build it further out or further away from this place because it's really beautiful here,” she said.

Kise said no construction will happen there or anywhere along the U.S.-Mexico border until the approval of the fiscal year 2018 budget.

The House Appropriations Committee will be talking about border wall funding on Tuesday.

The meeting will be considering the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations’ bill. It would fund the border wall and increase security along the border.

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