Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

Arizona Archaeological Council * Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society * Center for Biological Diversity * Coalition for Sonoran Desert Protection * Defenders of Wildlife * Desert Watch * Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter * Tucson Audubon Society

Contacts: Daniel R. Patterson, CBD 520-623-5252 x306; Carolyn Campbell, CSDP 520-388-9925; Sonja Macys, TAS 520-622-5622; Jenny Neeley, DoW 520-623-9653 x4; Julie Sherman, SC 928-213-1176; Jon Shumaker AAC 520-466-8490; Brian F. Dolan, ADBSS 520-797-2407
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NEWS RELEASE: for immediate release Wed. Jan 28 04

Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission Holds 3rd Hearing on Jan 29th will vote on rezoning proposal for La Osa Ranch sprawl city.

Meeting location: Thursday, Jan. 29th, 9 am, Pinal County Planning & DevelopmentDept., 31 N. Pinal Street, Building F, Florence AZ. 520-866-6442.

FLORENCE Tomorrow, the Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission will consider a rezoning proposal for notorious Scottsdale developer George Johnson’s proposed 67,000 home subdivision with up to 175,000 residents and several commercial centers. There are growing concerns about the developer’s lack of consideration for important resources including the Santa Cruz River and the last remaining bighorn sheep population in the Tucson area.

The proposed subdivision, called La Osa Master Planned Community, would be the 8th largest city in Arizona. It would include more than 67,000 homes, a resort, golf courses, and commercial development west of Red Rock, near the Pima County border and Silverbell Army Heliport, and adjacent to the Ironwood Forest National Monument. Large portions of the proposed development lie within a flood-prone area of the Santa Cruz River.

Mr. Johnson has been charged with violating state environmental laws and is currently under investigation for violating federal environmental laws. The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has charged Johnson with violating laws or regulations relating to damage to and pollution of tributaries to the Santa Cruz River. In addition, the US Army Corps of Engineers is currently investigating possible violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Johnson also has trespassed on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands, plus the Arizona State Museum (ASM) is doing a damage assessment on nine archaeological sites on and near the proposed development, including those on state trust lands.

Johnson’s proposed subdivision is immediately adjacent to the Ironwood Forest National Monument (IFNM), home to the last known viable herd of desert bighorn sheep in the Tucson area. The BLM, managers of the monument, cited Johnson with trespass for allowing many of his 5000 domestic goats onto the monument. Keratoconjunctivitis, disease causing blindness, spread from Johnson’s goats and infected more than30 percent of this small bighorn sheep herd and continues to spread, according to an Arizona Game and Fish Department (AGFD) report Monday. AGFD officials report that a second disease, contagious ecthyma, which causes skin lesions and bleeding, is also running through this wild sheep population and is likely linked to the goats. At least 8 bighorns have died so far as a result of these introduced diseases and the outlook is not favorable.

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