Center for Biological Diversity

Media Advisory, January 23, 2023


Wendy Park, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 844-7138,
Carolyn Campbell, Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, (520) 629-0525,
David Robinson, Tucson Audubon Society, (213) 924-1518,
Tom Hannagan, Friends of Ironwood Forest, (847) 910-9310,

U.S. Court in Tucson to Hear Arguments on Proposed Freeway Threatening Wildlife, Public Lands

TUCSON, Ariz.— A federal judge will hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by conservation groups challenging the Federal Highway Administration’s approval of Interstate 11. The proposed north-south highway in Arizona would destroy pristine Sonoran Desert, harm threatened desert tortoises and other wildlife, and worsen air pollution.

The lawsuit says the agency failed to consider other transportation alternatives, such as rail, and sidestepped the required environmental review before approving the 280-mile-long highway between Nogales and Wickenburg. The planned interstate’s west option would plow through desert wildlands in rural Avra Valley and between Saguaro National Park and Ironwood National Monument. It would disturb hundreds of archaeological and cultural sites and spread invasive buffelgrass known to fuel wildfires.

What: Hearing before U.S. District Judge John C. Hinderaker on the federal government’s motion to dismiss conservation groups’ challenge to Interstate 11.

When: 2 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25.

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

Who: The Center for Biological Diversity will be represented by Wendy Park. She will be available for interviews after the hearing, along with representatives from Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection, Tucson Audubon Society, and Friends of Ironwood Forest.


In November 2021 the Federal Highway Administration approved a 280‐mile‐long corridor for Interstate 11, between the border town of Nogales and Wickenburg, Arizona, northwest of Phoenix. The project would be part of an interstate route to Las Vegas that could eventually be expanded to cut across the entire western United States between Mexico and Canada.

Federal agencies, local governments and elected officials have objected to the proposed west option. They include the city of Tucson, city of Sahuarita, Pima County Board of Supervisors, U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the National Park Service.

Concerns include increased suburban sprawl, groundwater contamination, and harming wilderness, wildlife habitat and recreation in Saguaro National Park West, Tucson Mountain Park, and Ironwood Forest National Monument.

They’re also concerned that the interstate would lead to development of conservation lands set aside to mitigate environmental harm from other projects, including the Bureau of Reclamation's Tucson Mitigation Corridor, and lands protected under Pima County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

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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