The lower Rio Grande forms the border between Texas and Mexico. Although it’s the fourth-longest river in the U.S. and feeds wildly diverse ecosystems along its 2000-mile course, the Rio Grande is treated like an irrigation ditch and what writer Nick Paumgarten calls a “moat” dividing the two nations. Trump’s proposed border wall would follow a large portion of it, devastating its fragile ecology without slowing the trafficking of hard drugs.

For The New Yorker, Paumgarten floated the rugged river canyons through Big Bend National Park. Camping on both sides of the border, his flotilla included such esteemed companions as Democratic Senator Tom Udall, from an influential conservation-minded family, and Teddy Roosevelt’s great-grandson.You have to see certain places to understand why they must be protected. Paumgarten’s story lets readers experience this landscape themselves, to appreciate what Trump’s wall would destroy: not only the landscape, but the opportunity to…

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