Protecting Endangered Cactus in AZ with ADOT | Desert Botanical Garden


Desert Botanical Garden staff recently completed a conservation project in partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation that involved saving an endangered cactus.

In 2018, ADOT enlisted the help of the Garden to safely remove and return the Arizona hedgehog cactus that would have been affected by a construction bridge site in Globe.

A team from the Garden safely removed 34 cactus. The team then nurtured and propagated more, replanting 61 cactus earlier this month.

The conservation project near Globe means new life for the endangered cactus.

ADOT recently replaced the US 60 Pinto Creek bridge, home to several of these federally protected plants. The cactus species is listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serve and is protected by state law.

This environmental protection effort took on added importance in the summer of 2021. At that time, a wildfire swept through the project site, threatening some of the cactus in the area that were not removed because they were not threatened by construction.

Photos courtesy of Eirini Pajak

“The plants on site could have easily been destroyed in the fire which is why it was a good thing these plants were taken back to Desert Botanical Garden out of harm’s way,” says Steve Blackwell, Conservations Collections Manager for Desert Botanical Garden.

“That was an important side benefit of taking cactus out when we did. Another valuable part of this process was that we were able to hand pollinate the plants at the Garden, clone the mother plants and develop a seed bank for future preservation. This is a great win for the environment.”

“ADOT has a responsibility to respect the environment and to make sure the plants and animals that make Arizona special are protected,” says Josh Fife, ADOT’s biology team lead.

“We’re proud that the work we did will make sure the Arizona hedgehog cactus will continue to exist in the one special place in the world where they thrive.”


Photos courtesy of Eirini Pajak

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