TUCSON, AZ: Saving the environment starts at the nation’s edge. I saw plenty of evidence of that on my trip to the U.S/Mexico border area near Tucson.

The wilds and wildlife of the American Southwest are other victims of our broken borders that seldom get discussed. Illegal border crossers cut trails that speed erosion. They leave mountains of trash that pollute the desert and disrupt the nesting and hunting grounds of birds and desert animals. They also wreck private property, endangering the livelihood of ranchers and others who work in and nurture the lands on the high desert.

On the other hand, one clear benefit of border security is the local environment. Last year, I visited the border in the San Diego sector where added security had pretty much snuffed out illegal crossings—now the area—once a no-man’s land part marsh and part trash dump is a major bird sanctuary and preserved tidal wetland, flanked by a thriving middle class community.

Oddly enough many environmentalists are more interested in thwarting border security than supporting it. There is an Arizona Congressman, for example, who has been adamant about trying to make a large swath of the Tucson border area a nature preserve. That would be a disaster. The preserve would prevent the border patrol from building roods to police the area and flying helicopters overhead to track down smugglers, as a result, the region would quickly become a smugglers superhighway trampling the terrain, destroying the environment, and making the place unsafe for any species.