Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 2, 2022


Robin Silver, (602) 799-3275,

Environmentalists Seek to Join Federal Fight Against Arizona Shipping Containers Along Border

Illegal Installation on Public Land Blocks Jaguar, Ocelot Migration

TUCSON, Ariz.— The Center for Biological Diversity asked a federal judge today for permission to join the Biden administration as a defendant in Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s lawsuit challenging federal authority along the Arizona-Mexico border.

The state’s lawsuit seeks to defend the deployment of thousands of stacked shipping containers on public land along the Arizona-Mexico border, blocking critical migratory paths for endangered animals.

“Ducey’s breaking the law and jeopardizing the spectacular animals that roam the borderlands, just to score political points,” said Robin Silver, a co-founder of the Center. “We won’t allow him to trash the Sonoran Desert and public lands with thousands of shipping containers that won’t do a thing to prevent people or drugs from crossing the border. Why hasn’t the Justice Department already asked the judge for an injunction to stop Ducey's illegal political stunt? Federal attorneys should’ve been in court weeks ago to enforce the law and to protect the environment.”

Ducey sued the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Reclamation last month after the agencies ordered him to remove double-stacked containers near Yuma and abandon plans to deploy them in the Coronado National Forest in Cochise County. That work continues along roughly 10 miles of the borderlands, including across the last remaining wildlife corridors used by jaguars and ocelots, animals that are federally protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Today’s motion, filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson, asks Magistrate Judge Deborah M. Fine to allow the Center to join the federal agencies as defendants in the case. The motion says the Center provides “a unique and unrepresented perspective concerning the endangered wildlife, critical habitat, and general environment of the border lands.”

The federal government has oversight of a wide strip along the border, as well as the Coronado National Forest. The state wants to overturn that federal authority and eliminate all federal laws, regulations and protections for endangered species and the environment.

In addition to violating federal law, harming endangered wildlife and blighting the landscape, the shipping containers will block hundreds of ephemeral streams and washes.

Last month the Center filed a legal notice of its intent to sue Ducey’s administration if it proceeded with plans to install the shipping containers. The notice said the containers would obstruct a critical migration path for jaguars and ocelots and prevent their recovery in the United States, violating the Endangered Species Act. The Act requires a 60-day waiting period before a federal court can intervene.

That notice came days after the Bureau of Reclamation’s demand that Arizona remove the containers along the border near Yuma. The bureau said the containers on federal and Cocopah Indian tribal land violate federal law. The Forest Service also warned Ducey not to deploy the shipping containers in Coronado National Forest.

“Ducey’s lawlessness is matched only by his contempt for the natural world and other humans, especially people of color,” Silver said. “This is a pathetic way for the Arizona governor to spend his final weeks in office.”

Beyond jeopardizing wildlife, endangered species and public lands, the U.S.-Mexico border wall is part of a larger strategy of ongoing border militarization that damages human rights, civil liberties, native lands, local businesses and international relations. The border wall impedes the natural movement of wildlife that are essential to healthy biodiversity and ecosystems.

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Shipping containers stacked along the Arizona-Mexico border in jaguar critical habitat, Huachuca Mountains, Coronado National Forest, Ariz., Oct. 26, 2022. Photo credit: Russ McSpadden Images are available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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