Saguaro parkland sale would be a Diamond legacy, activist says

2013-05-20T12:45:00Z 2013-05-20T14:40:24Z Saguaro parkland sale would be a Diamond legacy, activist saysTony Davis Arizona Daily Star
May 20, 2013 12:45 pm  • 

A longtime Tucson environmentalist who has been critical of more than one development engineered by land investor and developer Donald Diamond over the years agrees with a top official in the Diamond real estate empire that a sale of 1,374 acres of the company's land to Saguaro National Park would create a legacy for the Diamond name.

The Sonoran Desert land currently lies within legally approved boundaries of the Rocking K development, a 5,000-plus acre Diamond creation that the Pima County Board of supervisors approved zoning for back in 1990. This land adjoins Saguaro National Park-East on the far southeast side. Last week, Rocking K Development president Chris Monson said one reason the company wishes to sell the land is for legacy purposes.

Activist Christina McVie's take on that is, "Anytime you can make such a significant contribution to a national park, that's certainly a tremendous contribution to the city and the region."

The legacy is still significant even if Rocking K makes a good deal of money off the sale, said McVie, the Tucson Audubon Society's conservation chair.

"People who have the ability to make such a significant contribution are generally good businssmen," McVie said.

On other fronts in the Saguaro-Rocking K story:

-- Longtime Diamond friend Luther Propst, an environmental consultant, said Diamond has told Propst that he has talked to Sen. John McCain about the proposed Saguaro park expansion. But Propst, formerly the Sonoran Institute's director, said in an interview that "I don't have a read one way or the other" as to whether Diamond can get his friend McCain on board for the bill.

"I think McCain, like a lot of these senators, are stuck in a bad position where doing local stuff such as this interferes with the (Republican) party philosophy in general" that favors limited govrenment and not expanding the total amount of public land, Propst said. Some Republicans, for instance, have said that the federal government should have to give up an acre of existing public land for every new acre that it buys.

Propst says he feels that's not workable for national parks -- "We've had hundreds or thousands of bills expanding national parks, and none have passed with the provision that if you add an acre to the park you have to give up an acre somewhere else."

"My hunch is that McCain and Flake will both support this," Propst said of McCain's fellow Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake. "This bill is supported by all the landowners whose land would be acquired for the expansion, a lot of elected officials and every conservation group in thie region."

-- Finally, to correct a mistake in the Sunday print edition, Chris Monson of Rocking K said in an interview that the 1,374 acres contains a portion of a golf course site. My Sunday story said it contains an entire golf course site.

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About this blog

Star reporter Tony Davis covers topics in this blog that you have read under his byline for more than 30 years in the Southwest: water, growth, sprawl, pollution, climate change, endangered species, mining, grazing and traffic.

To reach Tony call 806-7746 (office) or 349-0350 (cell) or write him at tdavis@tucson.com.

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