Sunday, April 2, 2017

Saguaro National Park Tuscon AZ

Saguaro National Monument was established in 1933 to preserve the cactus forest for future generations. The Civilian Conservation Corps CCC  filled old mine holes, pulled down existing structures, build an observation station, and completed an eight mile scenic road – the Cactus Forest Drive loop. The Saguaro cactus is the tallest and most impressive of the cacti growing in this patch of the Sonoran desert.  Saguaro National Park is the most diverse natural cactus garden on the nation, with 25 different species of cactus.

Here is a "young" Saguaro. It doesn't have a typical arm yet, so it is less than 60 years old. The growth rate of a Saguaro is highly variable depending on rainfall. Our brochure informed us that after five years, a Saguaro may be 1 inch tall, after 15 years it may reach a foot. It doesn't bloom until 35-40 years old, and the first arm doesn't appear until  60-70 years. A Saguaro can live 200 years or more. (In the background, you can see where we dropped our camper; the road was way too narrow to take it with us :-)

This sign gives you an idea what the road was like...

Here is a young Saguaro "hiding" in a protective "nurse tree".

Getting bigger....

And bigger.... 

And bigger...

Here is what the "forest" looks like.

A roadside kiosk informed us that in the early 1900 this was the most spectacular stand of Saguaro in Arizona. Since then, disease, cattle grazing, development, and some unusually harsh winters have decimated the forest. Since the 1980's the cactus forest has begun to rebound:

This picture was one we took at the same location:

Here you can see some of the development in the area. If you look at a map, you see that Saguaro National Park lies on either side of Tuscon, so it is only expected that houses will go up right next to the edge of the park. If there is one thing we learned on this trip it is the importance of designating and preserving open spaces.

 Finally, here are some of the other stickery inhabitants of this park. Just imagine trying to hike through this!

1 comment:

  1. It's really interesting seeing the locations shots over time (prickly terrain for poodle paws!) and the consequences of land use decisions. In the swampy watershed where I live the town gov't is trying to relax the wetland laws. For example, the current law protects wetlands 1000sqft or larger. The new proposal would only protect wetlands that are 4,356sqft or larger. (They're trying to drain the wrong swamp, imho.)