The topic of the border wall between the United States and Mexico continues to be broadly and hotly debated: on national news media, by local and state governments, and even in coffee shops and over the dinner table. By now, broad segments of the population have heard widely varying opinions about the wall's effect on illegal immigration, international politics, and the drug war.
But what about the wall's effect on the Sonoran pronghorn antelope herds and the kit fox? On the Mexican gray wolf, the ocelot, the jaguar, and the bighorn sheep? In unforgettable images and evocative text, Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall helps readers understand all that is at stake.
As Krista Schlyer explains, the remoteness of this region from most US citizens' lives, coupled with the news media's focus on illegal immigration and drug violence, has left many with an incomplete picture. As she reminds us, this largely isolated natural area, stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, hosts a number of rare ecosystems: Arizona's last free-flowing river, the San Pedro; the grasslands of New Mexico, some of the last undeveloped prairies on the continent; the single most diverse birding area in the US, located along the lower Rio Grande River in Texas; and habitat and migration corridors for some of both nations' most imperiled species.?In documenting the changes to the ecosystems and human communities along the border while the wall was being built, Schlyer realized that the impacts of immigration policy on wildlife, on landowners, and on border towns were not fully understood by either policy makers or the general public. The wall not only has disrupted the ancestral routes of wildlife; it has also rerouted human traffic through the most pristine and sensitive of wildlands, causing additional destruction, conflict, and death – without solving the original problem.
Krista Schlyer is a writer and photographer based in the Washington, DC, area. Her work has appeared in National Parks, Defenders, High Country News, Ranger Rick, National Geographic News, Audubon, and Outdoor Photographer. She is a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers and the North American Nature Photographers Association.
"There is a visual song of peace and reason in Continental Divide. Border security hysteria has drowned out such music in recent years, with much of the hate speech and hawkishness coming from those who've never stepped foot here. Schlyer's voice and camera bring the reality of the borderlands to Continental Divide and present it to the reader as it is."
– Daniel Millis, Borderlands Campaign Organizer, Sierra Club
"Krista Schlyer's magnificent book, Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall, reveals much truth about a part of the United States that is little known and largely misunderstood. Refuting the popular image of the border as a sterile desert area, her book reveals that the borderlands hold almost unimaginable richness of life and beauty in both human and natural communities. She goes on to outline the almost overwhelming odds against preserving that beauty and interconnectedness in the face of both political and physical barriers. This is the only book that addresses both the human and ecological world that is being torn apart by the failure of both the United States and Mexico to deal with their internal problems related to immigration, drugs, and guns. For those of you who don't know the borderlands, you owe it to yourself to read this and learn. For those you who do, you will both smile and weep at the stunning pictures and poignant text."
– Dinah Bear, attorney, border issues Defenders of Wildlife and Humane Borders and also author, amicus brief, supporting a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the waiver of laws for construction of the border wall and roads
"With Continental Divide, Krista Schlyer, wielding pen and camera with equal grace, takes her place as one of the staunchest advocates of the battered, contested, and sublimely beautiful territory we know as the US-Mexico borderlands."
– William DeBuys, author, A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest
"Krista Schlyer has lived the border problems. Hers is a narrative balanced with words and images. She's tasted the arid land's flavors and distilled the essential truth: that it's madness to drive a wedge through our own heart in a misguided effort to keep our nation safe."
– Jack Dykinga, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer
"A visual feast of southwestern borderlands. But this book offers so much more than a photographic tableau. Beautifully written, Continental Divide offers a taste of geology, biology, and history. Her tale is one of unintended consequences and a wall across the desert that is a symbol but not a solution to complicated economic and geopolitical forces."
– Lynn Scarlett, former deputy secretary of the US Department of Interior under President George W. Bush
"Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall is a strange and wondrous book. In many ways an ugly story about what we've become, it's also a love story about one of the world's loveliest places. Schlyer shows that the wall is ultimately a failure – it doesn't do what it was designed for, yet the disruptions to land, culture and ecosystems are monstrous. But Schlyer's argument is carefully entwined within the complex natural and human history of this region. The book's gorgeous photos range from wildlife to human portraits and from art shots to landscape photos. If I wanted my dear old mother in Indiana to understand what's going on along the border, I'd send her this book. Continental Divide should make you angry. Furious even. I was deeply struck by the simple beauty and grace of Schlyer's prose. Krista Schlyer has thrown down a challenge to all of us."
– Jon M. Shumaker, Tucson Weekly
"Continental Divide: Wildlife, People, and the Border Wall [...] shows a story of the borderlands that few have heard, and that members of Congress especially need to know. In a nutshell, borderlands wildlife and wildlands are rare, imperiled and precious and our policy is destroying the region year by year. I have raised funds to deliver copies of my book to Congress and, working with Sierra Club members, I have visited 100 offices so far. My message has been simple – no more walls, no more environmental waivers."
– Krista Schlyer, author of Continental Divide, Lay of the Land