Forest Service advises public to stay away from border areas where containers are being installed

The Forest Service is calling the state’s project unauthorized and says related heavy equipment and the presence of armed securitymay create safety hazards.
Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 7:41 PM MST|Updated: Nov. 30, 2022 at 9:55 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13/3TV/CBS 5) -- The U.S. Forest Service is telling the public to refrain from entering areas in the Coronado National Forest where the state of Arizona is installing shipping containers on the U.S.-Mexico border.

The federal agency is calling the state’s project unauthorized and says related heavy equipment and the presence of armed security personnel in the vicinity of Copper Canyon south of National Forest System Road 61 in the Sierra Vista Ranger District may create safety hazards.

The Forest Service has informed the state that the presence of the containers in the area is unlawful and says visitors to the Coronado National Forest should stay away from the area until the issue is resolved.

Public Affairs Officer Starr Farrell with the Coronado National Forest says safety is their top priority. She says people use this area to hunt, hike, or enjoy nature. “Their normal quiet location is not so quiet right now. The roads are being impacted. They’re not as safe to drive on. We just don’t want somebody to stumble upon it not knowing it’s there,” she explained.

Russ McSpadden works with the Center For Biological Diversity. He has documented the construction happening in this part of Copper Valley for the past month. He says he has seen uprooted trees and other things he doesn’t like to see. “It’s a dangerous location. I’ve seen razor wire left out on the national forest. Strange site to see this construction zone. It looks like someone is just dumping junk out in this wild national forest,” he said.

Arizona’s Family asked the Forest Service if they could legally get this project stopped since it’s on their land. They wouldn’t comment because of ongoing lawsuits. Gov. Ducey has asked a judge to back him and says Arizona has the authority over the federal government on this land.

Hunters who have questions about hunting in the area can call the U.S. Border Patrol station in Sonoita at 520-455-5051.