County trades land to protect rare cactus

Wednesday, March 15, 2006
County trades land to protect rare cactus


The county approved a land swap yesterday that it says will help protect the endangered Pima pineapple cactus.

The county gave up 640 acres off South Swan Road and will receive 529 acres near Elephant Head in the Santa Rita foothills, about 30 miles south of Tucson.

Developer Donald Diamond’s South Wilmot LLC plans a major development in the Swan Road area, and cactuses on the parcel next to it are mysteriously dying off.

Only three of the 28 plants put on the preserve survived and officials are not sure why. The Elephant Head habitat is expected to be more hospitable.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, which regulates endangered species, has approved the land swap, said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.