Environmentalists: Shipping container wall in Cochise County will interrupt wildlife crossings

By Alisa Reznick
Published: Tuesday, October 25, 2022 - 5:46pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 26, 2022 - 7:52am

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Gov. Doug Ducey’s office is creating another makeshift border wall out of shipping containers. This time along a stretch of federal land in Cochise County that has conservationists concerned. 

It's a 10-mile border section of rugged Coronado National Forest land, not far from the Coronado National Monument. The Arizona Daily Star reports the state is expected to spend an estimated $95 million to install some 3,000 shipping containers there.

Myles Traphagen, borderlands program coordinator for Wildlands Network, says unlike the farmland where the other shipping containers are in Yuma, this is a wildlife corridor. 

"You are in jaguar critical habitat, you’re in the Western Huachuca unit, unit four of jaguar critical habitat. Currently there are resident ocelots," he said. "This is a crucial area for a huge variety of grassland wildlife ... the value for connectivity between the U.S. and Mexico and the mountains and the grassland, couldn't be more important that the San Rafael Valley."

Arizona Gov Doug Ducey surveys shipping containers used to close gaps in the border wall
Office of the Arizona Governor Doug Ducey
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey surveys shipping containers used to close gaps in the border wall near Yuma on Sept. 8, 2022.

The San Rafael Valley is a sweeping stretch of grassland sandwiched by the Patagonia Mountains in Santa Cruz County, to the Huachuca Mountains in Cochise County. Traphagen says the area where the containers are slated will block seasonal water sources animals on both sides of the border rely on. 

A thin line of barbed wire and squat vehicle barriers mark the border there now. Conservationists argue they provide easier movement for animals and water that shipping containers will not. But he says, just like in Yuma, if people want to cross the border, they'll simply walk around them.

The new Cochise County project comes just after federal authorities sent a letter to Ducey's office to say the containers in Yuma were illegally placed and calling for their removal. Ducey refused and filed suit in federal court.