[Source: Erica Meltzer, Daily Star] — U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva has reintroduced legislation to protect Tumamoc Hill from development, even as Pima County moves forward with an attempt to buy the land at auction from the state Land Department with the same goal in mind. The legislation would transfer 2,500 acres on the Southeast Side to the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, and 160 acres near Saguaro National Park West would become part of the park. In exchange, the developer that controls those parcels would get 1,280 acres of federal land near Sahuarita and would pay the state Land Department the appraised value of Tumamoc Hill. Tumamoc Hill then would be transferred to Pima County for conservation. The legislation also requires the developer to go through standard environmental protection measures on the land near Sahuarita, a step waived in other versions of the legislation. This is Grijalva’s third attempt to get legislation preserving Tumamoc through the Congress.
The Arizona Democrat said he believes the political climate in Congress is more open now to environmental legislation, and he plans to use his position as chairman of the National Parks, Forests and Public Lands Subcommittee to ensure the bill gets a hearing. Grijalva said the legislation is important because it conserves three important parcels while maintaining environmental protections on land that will be developed. He said it was important to remove any uncertainty around the future of Tumamoc. “This is a really important issue for the people in the urban area,” Grijalva said. “It’s there, and we need to make sure it stays there.” A spokesman for Diamond Ventures, which controls the private parcels in question, said the company had just received the legislation and would respond in a few days.
[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: Dean Knuth, Daily Star. Paul Fish, curator of archaeology at the Arizona State Museum, stands near the area of the proposed land exchange, which would protect Tumamoc Hill from development.]