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  • Cactus Rescue Program celebrates 20th anniversary at Pima Prickly Park Oct. 5

    Sep 27, 2019 | Read More News
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    A group that has rescued nearly 100,000 cactuses throughout Pima County will celebrate its 20th anniversary Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at Pima Prickly Park, 3500 West River Road.

    Visitors can enjoy food trucks, music, games, plant giveaways, nursery tours and more at the anniversary celebration of the cactus rescue program run by the Tucson Cactus and Succulent Society and Pima County’s Native Plant Nursery. Admission is free.
    A short program begins at 10:30 a.m. and will include remarks by several TCSS members, including Dick Wiedhopf, president; Chris Monrad, founder; Donna Ellis, rescue coordinator; Jessie Byrd, member and manager of Pima County’s Native Plant Nursery; and County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, member.

    Huckelberry has gone out with the group on cactus rescue operations. In fact, he was once in a vehicle pulled over by law enforcement who were suspicious of the group’s truck, brimming with cacti.

    The anniversary celebrates the ongoing conservation efforts of the cactus rescue group, said Byrd, who with the Native Plant Nursery has partnered closely with TCSS to rescue native plants threatened by development.

    “The official TCSS rescue counter is at 98,094 cactus saved since 1999. This work is critical to preserving the amazing existing species diversity in urban areas,” Byrd said.
    Dick Wiedhopf, Vonn Watkinds and Linda Heisley
    TCSS maintains operations at Pima Prickly Park, a spot that “gives TCSS a place where we can share spectacular plants that we find on rescues, or are generously donated by homeowners and businesses that for many reasons want to relocate plants versus destroying them,” Linda Heisley, volunteer coordinator for Pima Prickly Park and a member of the Board of Directors for TCSS, said. “We feel fortunate to have this partnership with Pima County that allows us to share plants with the community.”

    Pima County’s Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department created the Native Plant Nursery in 2000 to minimize some of the more harmful impacts of urban development on native plants, following directives in the County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. 

    “This work is critical to preserving the amazing existing species diversity in urban areas, because the number one threat to wild cactus all over the world, not just here in Tucson, is habitat loss to development,” Byrd said. 

    Added Heisley, whose forearms bear the scars of years of handling the thorny plants: “We always say, ‘It’s not a success rescue if you’re not bleeding.’”

    For more information on the free event, contact (520) 429-4162 or park@tucsoncactus.org.

    Bottom photo: From left, TCSS members Dick Wiedhopf, Vonn Watkins and Linda Heisley