More than two dozen mature saguaros found a new home at the newly reopened Dreamy Draw Recreation Area, providing “real immediate visual impact” as one landscaper said, especially along Route 51.
The Mountain Parks and Preserves Committee held a meeting Monday evening to review the revegetation project that took place over the summer at the recreation area, which reopened Sept. 7.
Among the 58 cacti planted during the project, 27 saguaros were used that had been stored by Phoenix Water Services at the 24th Street Water Treatment Plant near the intersection of Lincoln Drive and 24th Street. Wayne Colebank, a landscape architect on the project, called them “reclamation saguaros.”
“Serendipity,” Judy Mielke, also a landscape architect and arborist on the project, said of the acquisition of the salvaged saguaros.
The 24th Street saguaros were planted at the trailhead and others along the southern part of the trail that aligns with Route 51, where they can be clearly seen from the road.
The saguaros, which had been at the water treatment plant for quite some time, now have a permanent home at Dreamy Draw, where they have been propped up and are receiving regular watering while they adjust to their new home, officials said.
Other revegetation efforts made at Dreamy Draw included hydroseeding, a technique that spreads seeds in a specialized slurry over bare ground. This method prevents soil erosion and can often yield better results than other seeding practices.
The seed mixture that was spread contained more than 20 native species of plants including trees, all typical to the mountain environment, officials said.
However, where the saguaros have their own personal watering systems, no artificial irrigation was implemented for the seed mix.
These seedlings will be more likely to “stick around” if they are germinated by natural rainfall and not by artificial irrigation, Mielke said.
First results from the seed mix will likely come from perennial plants like the Mexican Gold Poppy and Brittle Bush that tend to germinate easier in the drier climate. Both produce a gold or yellow flower.
More plants will continue to germinate and grow as the winter rains come and given a few rainy seasons, Mielke said.
A contractor will be checking once a month for the next year on the cacti and other plants to ensure their success, said Rod Stanger, a landscape architect on the project.
“I think it’s going to look great in two, three years,” Stanger said.
The restoration of the construction area went well and parkgoers can expect “quite a green corridor” in the years to come, Colebank said.
The Dreamy Draw Recreation Area was originally closed in 2020 for the construction of a drought pipeline project. Construction on the trailhead began in the summer of 2022.
Phoenix Water Services officials said the pipeline would ensure residents who are dependent on diminishing Colorado River water reliable access to drinking water in the future.
The finished pipeline transfers treated water from the Salt and Verde River reducing dependency on the Colorado River, officials said.
Kailash Garcia-Delaney is an Arizona State University journalism student. We would like to invite our readers to submit their civil comments, pro or con, on this issue. Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org.