Drive north on Rancho Sahuarita Boulevard, past Sahuarita Lake and the Rancho Sahuarita Clubhouse, and you will come across a small grove of trees and cactus on the east side of the street. These aren’t the Walden family’s pecan groves – they are a small collection of around 100 trees and cacti that were salvaged from the vacant farmland that Rancho Sahuarita once was.
Around 600 mature trees and cactii were originally salvaged from the northern part of Rancho Sahuarita during development; as the community developed, the salvaged trees were planted throughout Rancho Sahuarita in medians, parks, and public right of ways.
“As far as we know, our tree salvaging program was the first time a developer had saved and replanted trees along public roadways on this scale,” says Mike Bowman, vice president of development for Rancho Sahuarita.
Plants that were saved during the initial salvaging effort are now found along Rancho Sahuarita Boulevard and the Rancho Sahuarita Linear Park, and in the Rancho Sahuarita Marketplace.
Through partnerships with the Town of Sahuarita, some of the 600 plants, mostly cacti, were also re-homed along La Villita and Sahuarita Roads. “Rancho Sahuarita has donated these salvaged trees and plants to several landscape beautification efforts in the community,” says Bowman. The Sahuarita Road Project has been the most significant recipient of donated cacti, an effort for which Rancho Sahuarita and the Town, along with other partners, were recognized by Pima Association of Governments with the inaugural Timothy M. Ahrens Partnering Award.
“The tree nursery effort has been an exercise in sustainable community building since Rancho Sahuarita began,” says Jeremy Sharpe, vice president of community development for Rancho Sahuarita. “The amount of time, water and land resources it would take to grow mature trees for greenways throughout Rancho Sahuarita is phenomenal. We opted instead for saving and re-homing the existing plant life, which has resulted in a beautiful, and sustainable, landscape plan.”
The temporary nursery, located on an approximately 4-acre site destined for future development is now home to around 100 plants that remain from the original salvage effort. The majority of plants that could be salvaged from former farmland have already been relocated, either to the nursery or to new permanent homes throughout the community. The trees and plants that remain in the nursery will eventually make their way to new streets and public places throughout Rancho Sahuarita.
“The nursery project has been a great way for Rancho Sahuarita to develop in a intentional, sustainable way,” says Sharpe. “Native desert plant life has been preserved, and Sahuarita residents are able to enjoy the beauty of mature plant life in their public streets and thoroughfares.”