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  1. Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at:

  2. DO NOT CUT AND PASTE. Type the RIN number into the search box and click on the Search button. The RIN number is 1018-BF25.

  3. Click on the Proposed Rule at the top of the page.

  4. Click on comment and type in your comments.




Type out your comments, including the RIN number,  and mail to:


Public Comments Processing

Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2021-0098


5275 Leesburg Pike

Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.


TALKING POINTS to justify re-listing of the cactus ferruginous AS THREATENED.


  1. Habitat loss due to urbanization, the border wall, and climate change have placed this subspecies in peril of extinction.

  2. The owl was once listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and de-listing it in 2006 was a grave error that needs to be corrected.

  3. Surveys done in 2020 and 2021 indicate no recent evidence of occupancy near Tucson or in the southern Altar Valley, suggesting populations in both of these watershed regions remain extirpated. Populations to the west, in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, may have declined as well, as no pygmy owls were observed there between 2016 and 2020, and only two non-breeding individuals were observed in spring of 2021, despite intensive surveys of this region.

  4. Any specific information YOU have about threats to the owl or to its critical habitat.

  5. Any specific information YOU have about changes in this species range, distribution, or population size.

2021 Accomplishments and the Year Ahead


In 2021, Friends of the Sonoran Desert (FSD) pushed hard to protect sources of fresh water in the Sonoran Desert, particularly in Arizona. When the Trump Administration changed the definition of “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) in 2020 to no longer include intermittent and ephemerally flowing waters, over 90 percent of Arizona’s waters were no longer federally protected. FSD immediately took action. Most of Arizona’s waters don’t flow freely all year round; instead, they flow above ground either intermittently (predictably at certain times of year) or ephemerally (in response to precipitation, like monsoon rains). Eliminating intermittent and ephemeral waters from federal protection allows desert washes to be filled with dirt or toxic materials and permits desert waters to be contaminated without penalty.

To replace the lost federal protections, the Arizona State Government was tasked to produce legislation to protect our state’s waters. FSD worked with other state and federal organizations to produce information for legislators about important watersheds in Arizona that needed protection, and why that protection was needed. We also created a document explaining the importance of protecting all of Arizona’s waters and sent it to every state legislator before the vote was held on proposed new management strategies for Arizona’s waters. The information provided to the Arizona Legislature by many environmental organizations, including FSD, was ignored, and the bill that passed did not protect intermittent or ephemeral waters. Fortunately, in 2021 the Biden Administration changed the definition of WOTUS to include intermittent and ephemeral waters once again, so these waters are again protected under federal law. The change of the WOTUS rule by the Biden Administration, influenced by the efforts of many environmental organizations, was a victory, but the Arizona State Legislature continues to press for minimal protections for intermittent and ephemeral waters. Citizens can help protect Sonoran Desert waters in the future by voting for legislators committed to protecting this precious resource.

Regarding border wall and related construction, FSD has taken a lead role in promoting federal funding for land management agencies to repair the environmental damage caused by border wall construction. After assessing the damages, we recommended immediate action to restore water flows in desert washes blocked by poorly planned road construction, and the Department of Defense has begun to make those repairs. We also advised officials at the Barry M. Goldwater Military Range (BMGR) to restore the property west of the refuge so that desert washes are not blocked by berms, which prevents the natural flow of water into washes and adjacent habitats.

In 2021, we also advocated for the restoration of protected areas that were severely damaged by the construction of the border wall. Our focus is on roadways that were built or expanded in protected areas, in the service of the border wall. We have contacted federal agencies to request that restoration projects begin on these roadways. For example, the Camino del Diablo, an ancient “highway” used by travelers for hundreds of years to cross the Sonoran Desert, was converted into a smooth dirt highway by the Trump Administration for use by the Border Patrol. We want to see the Camino restored to its historic, 4-wheel-drive-only status, so that today’s hardy travelers can experience this ancient route as our ancestors did.


At the next meeting of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance, we will join with the head of the Cabeza Prieta Natural History Association to make recommendations about restoring other disturbed areas on public lands. To insure that restoration efforts are successful, we will emphasize the need for long-term monitoring and research to assess the effectiveness of different strategies.






We are excited to announce that the work of our 2021 student grantees has made a sound and important contribution to the conservation of the Sonoran Desert (see for the report summaries of our grantees). One student studied the Fremont cottonwood tree, an important but threatened species found in riparian areas. She found that some strains of Fremont cottonwoods are more resilient in the face of climate change than others, and recommends that project managers use the more resilient strains for conservation projects. Our second grantee is compiling data on the number and identification of oribatid mite species inhabiting the soils of the Sonoran Desert’s sky islands. Her research will help us to better understand the nature of the desert’s soils, which will help us protect fragile desert soil communities

Last, but certainly not least, we prioritize keeping our followers informed about the Sonoran Desert, its inhabitants, and the threats it faces, with daily posts on our Facebook Page. Our hope is that increasing awareness about the Sonoran Desert will encourage you to continue to support our efforts to protect this spectacular ecosystem.


We are proud of our accomplishments this year and look forward to tackling our goals for 2022. Please join with us to protect the Sonoran Desert. Your contribution will help fund our conservation goals in 2022. CLICK HERE TO MAKE YOUR DONATION.


2020 Accomplishments and the Year Ahead


FRIENDS OF THE SONORAN DESERT thanks you for your support and would like to share with you our goals for 2021 and our accomplishments in 2020. With your help, 2021 will be a very productive year.

In 2020, FSD argued for greater protection of critical water resources for Sonoran Desert wildlife in meetings with Arizona State government officials. In 2021, we will continue to pursue state protections for Arizona’s waters, most of which have lost their federal protections as a result of the new "Waters of the United States Rule" enacted by the Trump Administration. FSD also will make the case to the Biden Administration that portions of the border wall that imperil Sonoran Desert wildlife and waters should be removed.


To these ends, we proudly announce the Sonoran Desert Conservation References recently posted on our website As a science-based organization, we know that our advocacy efforts must be supported by credible, peer-reviewed, published scientific references. We are providing this resource to the general public and conservation community to enhance the effectiveness of our work to protect the Sonoran Desert.


We created our Student Grant Program, to support young scientists doing conservation research in the Sonoran Desert.   Our 2020 grantees did a spectacular job. Miguel Grageda continues to collect important data that enhances our ability to protect the endangered Sonoran pronghorn, and Julie Rakes’ research on delicate desert soils will help us to understand how we can best protect this critical resource.

We also created a Student Internship Program to mentor the young professionals we need to meet the conservation challenges we face. This year our interns learned to compile IUCN Red List of Threatened Species data on the status of Sonoran Desert plants. In 2021 our interns will be trained in the nuts and bolts of managing a nongovernmental conservation organization (NGO).

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In 2020, FRIENDS OF THE SONORAN DESERT published The Astonishing, Astounding, Amazing Sonoran Desert to help fund our conservation agenda and to educate residents and visitors alike about the fascinating Sonoran Desert ecosystem and the threats it faces. Sold on Amazon and in independent bookstores and visitor centers throughout Arizona, our book would make a wonderful holiday gift and all proceeds support the work of FSD.

We hope we can count on your continued support. Stewardship of the Sonoran Desert is our top priority.  Let’s make 2021 a great year!


Blog Series on Federal Laws Waived for Border Wall

On May 16, 2018, we launched our blog series on the 48 federal laws that have been waived to expedite construction of a massive, solid wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. Beyond the 48 federal law waivers, there are countless state and local laws that have also been waived. Here is our list of the federal laws that have been waived along with the dates they were originally enacted.

Federal Laws Waived for Border Wall and Year Enacted



  1.  The Antiquities Act  (AA)     1906

  2.  The National Park Service Organic Act. (NPSOC)   1916

  3.  The Migratory Bird Treaty Act  (MBTA)      1918

  4.  The Migratory Bird Conservation Act (MBCA)     1929

  5.  The Historic Sites Act (HSA)     1935

  6.  The Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act (FWCA)   1936

  7.  The Reclamation Project Act (RPA) Section 10     1939

  8.  The Bald Eagle Protection Act (BEPA)       1940

  9.  The Administrative Procedure Act (APA)     1946

10.  The National Fish and Wildlife Act (NFWA)   1956

11.  The Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act (MUSYA)   1960

12.  The Sikes Act (SA)     1960

13.  The Clean Air Act (CAA)     1963

14.  The Wilderness Act (WA)      1964

15.  The Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA)    1965

16.  The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)     1966

17.  The National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act (NWRSAA)     1966

18.  The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (RSRA)     1968

19.  The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)      1970

20.  The National Park Service General Authorities Act (NPSGA)     1970

21.  The Clean Water Act (CWA)    1972

22.  The Noise Control Act (NCA)     1972

23.  The Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA)    1972

24.  The Endangered Species Act (ESA)      1973

25.  The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)      1974

26.  The Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act (AHPA)    1974

27.  The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)     1976

28.  The Federal Land, Policy, and Management Act (FLPMA)    1976

29.  The National Forest Management Act (NFMA)    1976

30.  The Federal Grants Cooperative Agreements Act (FGCAA)   1977

31.  The National Parks and Recreation Act (NPRA)     1978

32.  The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA)    1978

33.  The Archaeological Resources Protection Act ( ARPA)    1979

34.  The Comp. Environmental Resp., Compensation, & Liability Act  (CERCLA)   1980

35.  The Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA)     1980

36.  The Farmland Protection Policy Act (FPPA)    1981

37.  The Arizona-Idaho Conservation Act (AICA)     1988

38.  The Federal Cave Resources Protection Act (FCRPA)     1988

39.  The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)     1990

40.  The Arizona Desert Wilderness Act (ADWA)      1990

41.  The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)    1993

42.  The Otay Mountain Wilderness Act (OMWA)     1999

43.  The Military Lands Withdrawal Act (MLWA)      1999

44.  The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)     2000

45.  The Paleontological Resources Protection Act (PRPA)     2009

46.  The California Desert Protection Act (CDPA)       2010

47.  The National Trails System Act (NTSA)       2017

48.  The Wild Horse and Burro Act (WHBA)       2017

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