Just like people, Saguaros within the National Park boundaries are subject to a census every 10 years.
Kurt Repanshek, a modern day John Muir, is a freelance journalist who writes about land use issues, especially in the Rocky Mountain West. His January 7th post for the National Parks Traveler begins like this:
Much as the bison is to Yellowstone National Park, the saguaro cactus is to Saguaro National Park. Tall, spiny, and handsome, the noble saguaro was the impetus behind the creation of Saguaro National Park, and reigns today as that park's icon. With hopes of ensuring it stays that way, every decade Saguaro officials launch a "Saguaro Census" to track the health of this cacti population. And if you don't mind heat or walking, you're invited to help out.
If you have a hankering to help with the census, you may have to wait another ten years, as the current Saguaro Census will be completed at the end of this month.
Results of the last (2000) Saguaro Census
Saguaro National Park has two districts, one on the east side of Tucson in the Rincon Mountains, and the other on the west side in the Tucson Mountains. The two districts are thirty miles apart, separated by the valley floor between the two parallel mountain ranges.
The results of the last census showed that the park's Tucson Mountain District (Visitor Center photo right) was home to more than a million of the magnificent plants, an increase of more than 38% over the 1990 census.
In the Rincon Mountain District, the tally showed an increase of 28%.
The Giant Saguaro is not confined to Saguaro National Park. You'll see magnificent specimens all over Arizona where conditions for their growth is optimal. The photo below is taken in Tucson Mountain Park, a 20,000 acre preserve that adjoins Saguaro National Park West, and is my back yard.
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