Texas's Big Bend National Park is a borderland of striking desert canyons, rocky mesas, and high-altitude forests—and it's supposedly even more grand on the Mexican side. There, peaks rise to 10,000 feet, and bears and bighorns roam a reportedly untrammeled wilderness. That's partially what drove Presidents Obama and Calderon to move forward with plans to create an international peace park on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The park would be modeled after the wildly successful Waterton-Glacier Peace Park we co-manage with our do-gooder little brother Canada. But making a national park work on the southern border is a lot harder than the north. For one, we'd have to struggle to secure a rugged area known for drug smuggling that's the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined.
Proponents claim that the Big Bend area is known for far less smuggling than other areas along the border— but local sheriff Ronnie Dodson still isn't a fan.
"I definitely wouldn't go over there," he says."Within a month, between us and Border Patrol, we've caught 6,000 pounds of marijuana coming out of there [and] numerous illegal aliens. The problem is when people say we're the least, it's because we're the biggest — and we miss a lot."
Texas senator Kay Bailey Hutchison has promised to oppose an international park, but congressional rep for the Big Bend wrote the resolution to move forward with the park.
"This is a very difficult time to be doing this," he says, "but I want to stress that the more communication we have with Mexico the better we will be."
"It's just a matter of the two countries getting together and saying let's do this and come up with a plan, and then we'll work on the security issues, we'll work on the border crossing issues," El Paso-area conservationist Rick Lobello says.
So how 'bout it? Are you in favor of an expanded Big Bend with wilder Mexican territory? 10,000-foot peaks and capable, international stewardship sound good to us, but let fly in the comments section below.
Image Credit: UltraRob