Railway Construction Project in the Rio Cocospera

Residents of the Rio Cocospera river valley and the town of Imuris were shocked to learn of a huge project already under construction in late 2023. This project is a brand new railway segment from the Imuris area to Nogales, but further east than the current railway, cutting through the beautiful, biologically important, and little-disturbed Rio Cocospera drainage.

A map of the approximate proposed corridor for new railway section in the Rio Cocospera, Sonora

The project was so secretive that the public initially couldn't even find out who was responsible. After media attention and outrage, it became clear it is being built through a wing of Mexico's military, which doesn't need to go through an environmental assessment process before construction begins. Information is still sketchy, but a clearer picture of the route and roles of the state and federal government are becoming more clear.

Initial information provided claims the project is needed to move the railway out of central Nogales, Sonora due to future increased rail traffic, which is expected as the Mexican government plans for increased trade through the port of Guaymas. This linkage would primarily be for shipping container traffic across the international border, although it has been said that no rail changes are planned for the US side of the border. Some Sonoran residents point out that the new railway section would end right at a mine under construction in the Sierra San Antonio, in the U-shape are of land formed by the Rio Santa Cruz in Sonora. This El Pilar mine is owned by Grupo Mexico, a company with outsized influence in Mexico and perhaps a need to cheaply move ore off-site.

The Rio Cocospera area is a haven for flora and fauna and an important corridor for wildlife migration, including a known linkage for jaguar and ocelot seen in southern Arizona. It is situated between the biologically rich mountain ranges of the Sierra Azul and Sierra Pinito. Rancho El Aribabi is a conservation ranch along the Rio Cocospera, with many years of biological research and impressive biological diversity, as well as a permanent flowing creek and associated riparian area. The railway would likely cut right through El Aribabi and be bladed through the canyon and valley bottoms of the Rio Cocospera.

Rio Cocospera
The Rio Cocospera on Rancho El Aribabi.

Sky Island
Wildland Threats
Other Tags