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another Katrina here if that river rises,” said a frustrated McAllen landowner. Officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department, guardians of tens of tho0 sands of acres of wildlife corridor along the river, reckon that up to 75 percent of the refuge will be affected by the fence. The entire 550 acres of the Sabal Palm Audubon Center and Sanctuary south of Brownsvillewhere today walkers may travel through enchanted forest nearly untouched by time, amid native Texas flora that no longer grows elsewherewill be isolated beyond the wall. The Federal Register announcement is the first step in what is called the “scoping process” for a federal environmental impact statement. It calls for 70 miles of fencing in the Valley. Chertoff has not yet invoked the Real ID Act, a dazzling and unprecedented law that allows him to waive any other U.S. law to build the fence. He used it in Arizona and California, but Valley residents have threatened to challenge the act on constitutional grounds. That means, for the time being, environmental laws such as the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act still apply along the Rio Grande. THE ODD COUPLE State Sen. Kirk Watson of Austin and Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa had ample material for teasing each other. The freshman urban Democratic senator and senior rural. Republican house member addressed a 300-plus audience of Meals on Wheels donors and supporters at the Four Seasons Hotel on October 9. “Kirk and I have always kind of been on the same page. Sometimes I have to get him to turn the book upside down,” Chisum said about their work together in this year’s legislative session. The fundraiser celebrated House Bill 407, sponsored by Watson and Chisum, which will give $20 million in state funding over the next two years for organizations that provide meals to elderly or disabled people. The two legislators were deemed “the odd couple” as they championed the bill together during the 80th Legislature. Chisum said the bill was fiscally sound, because meal-delivery programs help keep some people out of nursing homes, where the state would be paying for more than just their meals. It passed both houses unanimously. Watson, fresh from voting for toll roads at a regional planning meeting, said he regretted that his Senate Bill 668, which dealt with “greater accountability and transparency in the use of tolls,” died in the House. “Listen, the House, we passed what little stuff the Senate sent over to us,” Chisum responded. As for toll roads in his district: “We’re just not much in for toll roads up there. We don’t know who would pay it,” Chisum said. Looking forward to the 2009 session, Chisum said he’s forming a volunteer 6 THE TEXAS OBSERVER OCTOBER 19, 2007