Sources, who they are and what makes them a good source, are extremely important for any article. Let me just say that I got this completely wrong also. I’ve been wrong before and I’ll get things wrong in the future. Yes I’m fallible!
I did, however, seek conformation after I let the barn out of the cow. My face is very red right now.
So, here’s what happened; I saw the video report on FOX NEWS and tried to verify it with every news source I have in my favorites list. I couldn’t find a single mention of it anywhere. It wasn’t on government sites and nowhere to be found on Arizona news sites (television or print).
I thought something was a little wonky when FOX’s source was the Sheriff of Pinal County, Paul Babeu, and not the Sheriff of Pima County Clarence W. Dupnik. Buenos Aries National Wildlife Refuge is in Pima County not Pinal.
Babeu and his deputies do not patrol the border. They are all north of Pima Country and only walk the border in Sen. John McCain political ads.
This morning I emailed a source at Buenos Aires NWR, the following:
I was saddened to hear on Fox News 6/15/2010 that the Buenos Aires National Refuge was closed to U.S. citizens. Although I haven’t enjoyed any fishing trips to Lake Arivaca or driven to Ruby lately I would like to know what’s happening to my former playgrounds.
Could you please tell me what the exclusion zone is in terms of miles from the Mexico border and the area the closure covers (square miles)?
How long will Buenos Aires [National Wildlife Refuge] are closed for?
What are the Border Patrol and the Pima County Sheriff’s Office doing to secure the refuge?
With this recent news I don’t feel safe in Tucson and I can’t imagine what you are feeling like on the border.
A short time later they replied with the following:
Thank you for writing. The news coverage is out of proportion and a great misunderstanding. The Fish & Wildlife Service is working to correct the situation. We were not consulted about the television or other coverage.
The refuge is open as always. Erroneous information came out on Fox News and this has led to expansion of misinformation in Web blogs.
The southernmost half-mile of the refuge has been closed to the public and refuge staff since 2006 so that Border Patrol can be unimpeded in their patrols. It also helps ensure public safety to not be in that area right along the border, just in case. There is less immigrant traffic along the southern boundary of the refuge now as a result of the 12-foot fence. There is some drug traffic in the mountains to the east of the refuge. But we are seeing fewer impacts from immigrant traffic than before the fence.
The closure involves 3500 acres, which is 0.02% of the refuge. The remainder of the refuge’s 118,000 acres is open to the public . . . . Hiking, camping, bird-watching, hunting . . . as usual. The refuge is definitely open and no additional closures have been instituted since 2006. Likewise the Arivaca Lake and Ruby Road areas are open as always.
Border Patrol is doing a lot. Numbers of agents have doubled since 2006. The amount of immigration through the refuge is down by at least half due to the border fence. The Sheriff’s Dept. has a peripheral role. Most patrolling is by Border Patrol or refuge law enforcement officers.
We thank you for your concern. You’re welcome to visit!
Although this is an opinion blog I do like to sprinkle facts in for seasoning. The last blog about the closure of Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge belongs more on the fiction than non-fiction list.
I apologize to Buenos Aires WNR and to the three or four people who read my last blog. My hide is on the side of the barn for all to see.
Here’s hoping that FOX NEWS will retract their erroneous story. Day 5 and no retraction from FOX News yet.