Note: This is a sidebar to a feature story headlined 'Desert sprawl.'

Doug McVie and his wife, Christina, live on five acres in the heart of the ironwood forest on Tucson's northwest side. They are active in the environmental group, Desert Watch.

"Once you see the surveying tags, the party is over. I called up the homebuilder and asked, "How am I going to get buffered from your subdivision?" They said, "We don't know. The plan hasn't been fleshed out." Then, on my birthday, Sept. 13, 1986, they came in and bladed. You wake up, it was like a Sunday, and there are diesels going with smoke coming out and a pile of huge old saguaros going over. I guess the graders answered the question of how I will be buffered."