The River and the Wall

Front Cover
Texas A&M University Press, Mar 22, 2019 - Travel - 200 pages
When a team of five explorers embarked on a 1,200-mile journey down the Rio Grande, the river that marks the southern boundary of Texas and the US-Mexico border, their goal was to experience and capture on film the rugged landscapes of this vast frontier before the controversial construction of a border wall changed this part of the river forever.

The crew—Texas filmmaker Ben Masters, Brazilian immigrant Filipe DeAndrade, Texas conservationist Jay Kleberg, wildlife biologist Heather Mackey, and Guatemalan-American river guide Austin Alvarado—began the trip in El Paso, pedaling mountain bikes through the city’s dry river bed. Their path took them on horseback through the Big Bend, down the Wild and Scenic stretch of the river in canoes, and back to bikes from Laredo to Brownsville. They paddled the last ten miles through a forest of river cane to the Gulf of Mexico.

As they made their way to the Gulf, they met and talked with the people who know and live on the river—border patrol, wildlife biologists, ranchers, politicians, farmers, social workers, locals, and travelers. They climbed the wall (in twenty seconds). They encountered rare black bears, bighorn sheep, and birds of all kinds. And they sought to understand the complexities of immigration, the efficacy of a wall, and the impact of its construction on water access, wildlife, and the culture of the borderlands.

The River and the Wall is both a wild adventure on a spectacular river and a sobering commentary on the realities of walling it off.
 
 

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Contents

Inspiration by Ben Masters
5
The Team
14
The River by Colin McDonald
19
Starting Line to Sonic Ranch by Jay Kleberg
35
The Congressmen by Ben Masters
41
The Forgotten Reach by Ben Masters
50
The Mustangs by Ben Masters
63
Learning to Ride by Heather Mackey
69
Waterlogged on the Rio by Korey Kaczmarek
112
Langtry by Hillary Pierce
116
Lake Amistad by Heather Mackey
119
Crossers by Ben Masters
124
A Landowners Viewpoint by Becky Jones
137
The Santa Ana Rally by Hillary Pierce
142
The National Butterfly Center by Heather Mackey
148
Ocelots by Katy Baldock
151

Me and CStar by Filipe DeAndrade
73
Desert Bighorn Sheep by Ben Masters
76
The Draw of the Big Bend by Austin Alvarado
82
Black Bears by Ben Masters
86
The YellowBilled Cuckoo by Heather Mackey
90
The International Park Idea by Jay Kleberg
95
Boquillas by Heather Mackey
103
Wild and Scenic River by Austin Alvarado
106
Roma Captain Richard King and the River by Jay Kleberg
156
The Maquiladora by Ben Masters
160
The Respite Center by Hillary Pierce
164
My Immigration Story by Geny Alvarado
168
The Last Stand by Jay Kleberg
175
The Final Paddle by Ben Masters
180
Acknowledgments
187
Copyright

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About the author (2019)

BEN MASTERS is CEO of Fin & Fur Films, LLC. He is an award-winning filmmaker, an accomplished photographer, a contributor to Western Horseman Magazine and National Geographic, and the author and producer of the book and film Unbranded. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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