Researchers on Tumamoc Hill
TUCSON -- Tumamoc Hill, the long-time desert research site on the west side, needs permanent protection after over 15 years of limbo.
Richard Elias, Chairman of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, who also has Tumamoc Hill in his district, has an important op-ed in today's Star about a preservation option the county is considering.
As a city planning commissioner, ecologist and southwest director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, I was called and interviewed at length on the issue Friday by Star reporter Erica Meltzer, but my comments did not appear in her article yesterday. Perhaps I was too positive and she didn't include or an editor cut my comments?
I am generally supportive of Chair Elias' proposal here. With the current real estate slump, now may be a good time for the county to buy the 320 acres of State Lands at Tumamoc Hill and save it forever from development.
Given the local political support, it is unlikely any local developers will try to out-bid the county at auction. It is possible big out-of-town development corporations will try to buy it, but it seems the county has an agreement with State Lands to avoid that disaster.
If the county gets the land it should be forever preserved. Tucson is a known center for science, and the UA-lead research at Tumamoc will be protected. The public will still be able to hike the popular road to the top for exercise and great views.
The real problem here is the long-overdue need for significant reform of the Arizona State Lands system and State Land Department. Right now the system works well for huge development corporations, and largely against conservation and quality of life.
With over 9 million acres of State Lands in Arizona, this issue affects us all. If I am elected to the Arizona House, I will pursue reform of the State Lands system to better serve education, conservation and quality of life for all Arizonans.
Elias is wise and bold with his Tumamoc Hill preservation proposal. Other Supervisors, the public and State Land Department should back it.
Doing nothing and keeping Tumamoc Hill in continual limbo, with a possible development threat hanging over it, is riskier and not in the public-interest.
Also today, some differing views on Tucson's Prop. 200