Border barrier of shipping containers snakes across Arizona wilderness

Shipping containers form the border wall on the frontier with Mexico in Cochise County

By Liliana Salgado

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. (Reuters) - A long, thin line stretches across the dusty Arizona landscape. It is a border barrier - but not the customary wall or fence. This is made up entirely of shipping containers stacked on top of each other.

The improvised wall - topped with concertina wire - was ordered built by Republican Governor Doug Ducey in August in an attempt to fill gaps in the U.S.-Mexico border used by migrants.

Border communities had been overwhelmed, he argued, saying the double-stacked containers would reach 22 feet (6.7 m) high.

Initially ordered for Yuma County, Reuters observed a container wall being constructed in Cochise County.

Environmental protesters said the construction was harmful to local wildlife. On Tuesday, a small group sat next to one of the containers.

"We're not here to cause damage, get in anyone's way. What we're here to do is enjoy our public lands in a strategic way that hinders the placement of further shipping containers," said Eamon Harrity, wildlife project manager at Sky Island Alliance.

The Center for Biological Diversity has said the containers may obstruct a critical jaguar and ocelot migration corridor, while the U.S. Forest Service said at the end of November that the wall could create safety hazards and called it unlawful.

Ducey argues he has the right to defend the state of Arizona and protect its citizens. He has filed a lawsuit asking a judge to stop the federal government from interfering. Last month, the federal government filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit.

(Reporting by Liliana Salgado; Writing by Rosalba O'Brien; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)