Just the Facts

Big Bend Rio Bravo Binational Natural Area:   Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this effort important?
1- A binational natural area would help to call attention to the importance of collaboratively protecting the entire Big Bend and adjoining areas in Coahuila and Chihuahua and their fragile environments from development projects.  Protecting this fragile desert mountain region and its wildlife and culture is important to the quality of life of people who live there and to ecotourism which is important to the economy of both countries.
2- A binational natural area would help the people of both countries build stronger partnerships along the US Mexico border.
3 – A binational natural area would be an example of how our governments and citizens can pursue through cooperation and collaboration a great humanitarian project that celebrates the border region and helps both countries improve their perceptions of what a border is and what a border can be.

If lands on both sides of the border in the US and Mexico are protected why is there a need for a binational natural area?
Binational natural area designation would send a message to the people of both countries and the world that the entire region is an important conservation area worthy of care and support from citizens of both countries.  If the federal governments of both countries would come together and recognize the value of declaring the entire region an international park, it would not only help not only help conserve the area, but also help boost the economy on both sides of the border through ecotourism.  Promoting the economy would have the added benefit of helping with the socio-economic needs of many impoverished people living in and near the area.

How would binational natural area be managed?
The world’s first international park at Waterton Glacier International Park on the U.S. and Canada border is a perfect model for a Big Bend Rio Bravo Binational Natural Area.  Border security requires that international travelers have all required documents as they cross into either country. Both countries retain their own sovereignty and both parks are administered separately.

Park managers work jointly on many issues, such as search and rescue, publications, ranger-led activities, exotic weed management, wildlife issues, research projects and native plant restoration.

Will the binational natural area require a bridge in Big Bend National Park?

The establishment of the binational natural area would not require new international bridges and crossings or that new lands be acquired. Current land-management practices in both countries would not have to change.

Why is creating an binational natural area so important?
The giant park would help both countries better address key issues such as water and air quality, control of invasive species, wildlife protection and management of wildland fire.  The natural area would become a permanent monument and symbol of peace between the U.S. and Mexico, one that will celebrate the friendship between the two countries and be a meeting ground where the people of both countries and citizens from all parts of the world could come together to learn about each other’s culture while coming to better understand the natural world that they all share.

What needs to happen next?

In 2010, President Obama and President Calderón announced that both the U.S. and Mexico would work jointly in leading the development of an Action Plan for the Big Bend/Rio Bravo Protected Area. We need our representatives in Congress and the Senate to pass legislation in concert with the government of Mexico creating the international park for the purpose of and the need to promote the long-term protection of the region’s fascinating flora and fauna.

Why are we petitioning Representative Will Hurd, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and President Obama?
A new online petition calling upon Representative Will Hurd, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and President Obama to work together in cooperation with Mexico in establishing the Big Bend Rio Bravo Binational Natural Area is the result of efforts to work with Congress on this issue over the past 17 years.  During this time former U.S. Representative for Texas’s 16th congressional district Silvestre Reyes and current Representative of the 16th congressional district Beto O’Rourke have all supported the international designation of a natural area in the Big Bend region.   Each has also stated that the U.S. Representative for Texas’s 23rd congressional district must take the lead since Big Bend National Park is located in the 23rd congressional district.  Currently the U.S. Representative in the 23rd congressional district is Will Hurd.

Big Bend International Park Timeline