Save the Sonoran

"After five years of watching them bulldoze the desert and pack the sardines in, those people living in Del Webb's 1,400-home Terravita development will need a therapist," says David Phelps. He's a local carpenter and board member of Sonoran North, a grassroots group battling the blade in the booming communities north of Phoenix, Ariz. The group lost its fight against Del Webb, but Sonoran North - now 1,000 members strong - is gaining ground as homeowners learn that their once-spectacular views last only until the next group of homes go up. Maricopa County is expected to grow from 2.4 million to 4.1 million in the next 25 years, which means that an acre of land is developed every hour, reports the Arizona Republic. Opponents to growth in the Sonoran are still searching for the most effective way to shape and direct the current boom: Some say that high-density development is the best way to preserve large tracts of desert. But Sonoran North members say more land can be saved by limiting development to one home per acre - density that allows humans to coexist with the desert ecosystem. Phelps also reports that the group just successfully lobbied for higher per-unit development fees. For more information contact Sonoran North, Box 2901, Carefree, AZ 85377-2901 (602/488-3863).