Cactus ferruginous owl

Lawsuit Challenges Federal Officials for Failing to Protect Endangered Species Along Proposed Arizona Interstate

TUCSON, Ariz.— Conservation groups filed new legal challenges against the Federal Highway Administration today for failing to consider harms to threatened and endangered species, including the newly listed cactus ferruginous pygmy owl, from the proposed Interstate 11 in Arizona.

“Interstate 11 would decimate habitat for cactus ferruginous pygmy owls, who play a vital role in maintaining the health of the Sonoran Desert,” said Russ McSpadden, Southwest conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity. “These small but fierce birds nest and raise their young in saguaro cacti and other desert trees that would be bulldozed for the highway’s construction. We’re fully committed to protecting these rare owls and their habitat from destruction.”

In 2022 the groups sued the Federal Highway Administration saying it sidestepped required environmental review before approving routes for the 280-mile-long highway between Nogales and Wickenburg. Today’s amended complaint says the agency also failed to analyze the highway’s threats to endangered species, as required under the Endangered Species Act.

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Media photos: Patrick Sullivan, Media Director,, (510) 844-7116

Ocelot by Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity.