In July, when the monsoon season rolls across the Sonoran Desert, the silky, yellow flowers of the Pima pineapple cactus burst into bloom. Sweet, green fruits soon follow, providing essential food and water to a number of desert critters. The Pima pineapple cactus was once abundant throughout its small range in southern Arizona, but with urban development and habitat loss, fewer of these cacti bloom every year.

In 1998, on behalf of a coalition of 31 environmental groups, the Center drafted the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. Encompassing nearly 6 million acres, this large-scale, regional habitat conservation plan is intended to staunch uncontrolled development in Pima County by establishing a process to conserve large swaths of desert. It manages human development and open space in southern Arizona to protect the Pima pineapple cactus and 22 other endangered species. The Pima County Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted the plan.