Climate Change in Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Saguaro National Park was originally designated as a National Monument in 1933 and re-designated as a National Park in 1994.

Watch this 20-minute video by the National Park Services to learn about Saguaro National Park.

Video: A Delicate Balance – Video from the National Park Services & The Western National Parks Association

Saguaro National Park in Arizona is home of the iconic Saguaro Cactus. The park is made up of 2 sections, the Rincon Mountain District on the east side of Tucson, AZ and the Tucson Mountain District on the west side. The park ranges from 2,180 ft in elevation up to 8,666 ft. We find desert scrubs and desert grassland within the Tucson Mountain District and additionally oak woodland, pine-oak woodland, pine forest, and mixed conifer forest within the Rincon Mountain District.
Wildlife includes the coyote, Gambel’s quail, desert tortoise, black bear, mountain lion, Mexican spotted owl, Arizona mountain king snake, and white-tailed deer.

Did you know?

It is difficult to tell the age of a Saguaro. Growth depends on rainfall, temperature, soil conditions and other factors. It takes the Saguaro about 5-10 years to be 1 inch tall. A 2 feet tall cactus is between 20-45 years old, a 6 feet tall one between 35-70 years. Saguaro cacti will live about 150-200 years and only few will reach over 200 years and a height of 50 feet. Not all cacti will grow arms, and they can be between 50 and 100 years old and between 8 and 20 feet tall when they grow their first ones.

How does Climate Change affect Saguaro National Park?

With an increase in temperature and a decrease in rainfall in the winter (but possibly more rain in the summer during monsoon season), the soil becomes drier and changes plant and animal habitat.
The Saguaro cactus requires specific conditions in order to reproduce and replenish its population. Due to higher temperatures and drought, there are fewer young Saguaros that are surviving. Though the park is abundant with Saguaros today, most of them are mature and are not reproducing at a rate to sustain the current quantity.
Another factor is an increase in intense and destructive fires due to higher temperatures and drier conditions. This is worsened by the introduction of invasive species, such as buffelgrass, that spread fire across the park.
More information on Climate Change in Saguaro National Park from the National Parks Service.

What can we do to reduce effects of climate change?

As stewards of our nature, we should always follow the 7 Principles of Leave No Trace when we visit our national parks. Use refillable water bottles and pack your lunch in reusable containers to eliminate waste.
Volunteer with a national park, state park, or other nature preserves in the area where you live. Not only will you learn about your local ecosystem, but you will most likely make new friends. To volunteer with Saguaro National Park, please visit Saguaro National Park Volunteer Opportunities.
For broader national impact on climate change, get involved in civic action. Write to your local representatives to demand action on climate change and vote for politicians who make climate change a priority.

Enjoy our nature & help protect it.