A Scottsdale land developer has agreed to pay the state $7 million to settle a 2005 lawsuit claiming he spoiled a protected desert area north of Marana.
His contractors will pay another $5 million, bringing the total in the settlement to $12 million, according to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
George H. Johnson and George Johnson International Inc. in 2003 bulldozed 270 acres of state trust land in and near the Ironwood Forest National Monument and Los Robles Archaeological District, the state’s suit claimed.
State experts estimated that action caused more than $8 million of damage.
Grading machines destroyed 1,500-year-old Hohokam sites when preparing land for a failed housing project called La Osa Ranch Planned Area Development that was to include 67,000 dwellings, businesses and multiple golf courses.
Johnson International caused serious damage to at least seven separate archeologically rich sites in the Ironwood Forest National Monument and Los Robles Archaeological District, the state claimed.
The damaged areas include parts of the Los Robles Platform Community, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The settlement between the state and George H. Johnson and numerous other defendants was announced Thursday in Phoenix by Attorney General Terry Goddard.
The defendants did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.
The settlement, reached Nov. 20, requires the $7 million payment be made by Jan. 4.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Arizona State Land Department, Arizona Game & Fish Commission, Arizona Department of Agriculture, and the Arizona State Acquisition and Preservation Fund are slated to receive payments from the settlement funds, according to state documents.
The Johnson parties agreed to drop counterclaims against the state and associated parties as part of the settlement.
The settlement also covered state claims that Johnson caused the destruction of and injury to valuable natural and archeological resources by:
• Illegally bulldozing and clearing an estimated additional 2,000 acres.
• Causing irreparable damage to protected archaeological sites on state trust lands.
• Destroying more than 40,000 protected native plants.
• Discharging pollutants into state waters and damaging watercourses.
• Killing at least 21 Arizona desert bighorn sheep and injuring numerous others.
• Breaching terms of a state grazing lease.
• Bulldozing and clearing critical habitat for the pygmy owl.