Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, August 23, 2023


Carolyn Shafer, Patagonia Area Resource Alliance, (520) 405-1117,
Laiken Jordahl, Center for Biological Diversity, (928) 525-4433,
Scott Stern, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2117,
Rob Peters, Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, (970) 201-7642,
David Robinson, Tucson Audubon Society, (520) 260-6994,

Federal Judge to Hear Arguments Thursday on Mining Exploration in Arizona’s Patagonia Mountains

TUCSON, Ariz.— A federal judge will hear arguments Thursday on conservation groups’ request for a preliminary injunction to stop two mineral exploration projects in southern Arizona’s Patagonia Mountains. In June the groups filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Forest Service’s approval of the projects, which could result in around-the-clock drilling in the biologically sensitive habitat for up to seven years.

What: Oral arguments on a preliminary injunction request challenging the Sunnyside and Flux Canyon mineral exploration projects in the Patagonia Mountains.

When: 3 p.m., Thursday, August 24.

Where: Evo A. DeConcini U.S. Courthouse, Courtroom 5D, 405 W. Congress St., Tucson, AZ, 85701

Who: Attorneys with Earthjustice, and other members of the conservation groups, will be available for interviews after the hearing.


In May the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the Flux Canyon Exploration Drilling Project and in June it authorized the Sunnyside Exploration Drilling Project, both exploratory drilling projects for copper and other minerals in the heart of the most biodiverse part of the Patagonia Mountains.

In June conservation advocates sued the Forest Service, saying the agency failed to analyze the cumulative harm Sunnyside, Flux Canyon and other nearby mineral exploration projects would have on public lands, water and endangered species, including Mexican spotted owls and yellow-billed cuckoos.

The Sunnyside and Flux Canyon projects would construct up to 36 well pads for drilling exploratory shafts thousands of feet deep, threatening to contaminate groundwater and jeopardize the water supply of the nearby town of Patagonia.

The Patagonia Mountains provide a key corridor for jaguars and ocelots moving north from Mexico through a border wall gap to their range in the United States. Recently a jaguar is believed to have traversed the Patagonia Mountains before being documented in the nearby Santa Rita Mountains.

RSHumboldt Canyon_Laiken Jordahl-scr
Humboldt Canyon in southern Arizona’s Patagonia Mountains is the epicenter of the proposed Sunnyside Exploration Drilling Project. Photo credit: Laiken Jordahl, Center for Biological Diversity. Image is 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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