Protecting the Saguaro

They recently built a new outlet mall in Marana several miles from us, and now they are tearing up a long stretch of road, which leads to it, making it a challenge to get there. When the road is finished, it will make it easier. I hope the mall stays in business until the road is finished, at least until I’m not too old to drive.

Aside from that, alongside the construction route there are numerous saguaro cactuses marked with an orange band. They are to be spared from demolition. The saguaros are protected by strict laws in Arizona and if you bulldoze one, or even damage one, you are in for big saguaro size trouble.Saguaro Orange

If a saguaro is in the path of a construction project, it must be tagged with a bright orange band, and then moved to a new location by a licensed cactus mover. The saguaros, sorry victims of eminent domain, will be placed in a new home, planted on public land or sold to landscapers or other qualified individuals.

It’s easy to see why Arizonans want to protect them. The saguaro is found only in the Sonoran Desert and limited areas of California and Mexico. They can grow up to seventy feet tall and live up to 200 years. They provide homes for desert woodpeckers, who peck holes to make a nest. Other birds use the same dugouts after the woodpeckers leases are up. The bloom of the saguaro is the state flower of Arizona.

On October 10, 2015 I wrote an essay about the saguaro. It was one of my early posts on Brainshowers and now lives in the bowels of the blog archives. I will post it here again, so you don’t have to go look for it.

—- The Lone Saguaro —-

The lone saguaro braves the desert chill, unafraid of the approaching darkness. Thus it has been for countless years, for this majestic patriarch of the Sonoran desert.

As the sun slips reluctantly below the horizon, shadows grow longer, the air becomes colder. The saguaro longs for rain; many of its needles slant downward to direct moisture to its roots. More often than not, the rain does not come, only the creatures of the desert night.

A fury tarantula cautiously exits its hole in the sand, hoping to find a mate to share the evening. Beneath a prickly pear, a king snake tests the climate. Stay tightly curled or slither out? He contemplates.

Nearby, a pack of coyotes chatter joyfully, choosing the evening song list for their canine karaoke. One melodically howls at the moon, inviting others to join the festivities.

From a distance, a great horned owl, poses the question, “Who?” No one answers. He repeats. Hours pass and the sun’s soft glow, a preview of the new day, glistens above the nearby mountains. High clouds silently tease the saguaro into hopes of rain, but alas, all they bring is another orange and red sunrise.

The saguaro watches the critters retreat, their morning shadows stretching in the morning chill; the great horned owl silently glides off to parts unknown.

The dawn of another day in the Sonoran desert. Thus it has been for the lone saguaro – for as many years as there are grains of sand.

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