Phoenix conservation organization plans census to study urban saguaros
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- An organization in Phoenix is looking to see how record heat and dry climate are affecting saguaros. Jeny Davis with Metro Phoenix Ecoflora and the Desert Botanical Garden tells us 2020 was historically one of the hottest and driest summers in Arizona. She says it made an impact on both urban and wild saguaros.
Although saguaros are not currently listed as threatened or endangered, she said they’ve seen an increase in these plants falling over or even losing arms. “Phoenix is a heat island, so with the built environment, the concrete, asphalt, glass reflecting off the buildings, our temperatures are hotter in the city as opposed to open desert,” Davis said. While she admits they don’t know exactly what’s causing this, they assume it may be the heat.
She said they hope the saguaro census can bring answers and help them determine the plant’s response to heat and stress. “We use that to make those observations and kind of get a count of how many saguaros are here in the Phoenix metro area and start to monitor them and see how climate change can start to impact them over time,” she said.
The community can be a part of the project by downloading the iNaturalist app to their phone. “Join the Metro Phoenix Saguaro Census Project, and you can make observations anywhere in urban areas,” Davis said. “We don’t want parks; we don’t want natural areas; we want in front of schools, houses, things like that.” Davis says the project will help the lead expert track the plant’s health and the differences between urban and wild saguaros. And, in turn, help the animals in Arizona that depend on them for water and shelter.
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