Redoing the bridge, but saving endangered cactus at Pinto Creek

Redoing the bridge, but saving endangered cactus at Pinto Creek

By Doug Nick / ADOT Communications
May 19, 2021

There are some of us at the ol' ADOT Ranch who were born and raised here in Arizona. Some would say Arizona natives are as rare as hen’s teeth, but the truth is we have no idea what that “hen’s teeth” saying actually means. 

So let’s skip it. 

The issue here is the desert. Those of us who grew up here tend to think it’s quite beautiful. You may or may not agree, but, ahem, we’re right. We will concede that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

But what is NOT in the eye of the beholder is the idea that whether you think the desert is a plain brown landscape or you’re among the truly enlightened who see it as an ever-changing canopy of color and light, the environment is worth preserving. 

Where does ADOT fit into all of this? Like a glove. 

To wit: 

Since 2018, there has been a joint effort by the Arizona Department of Transportation and the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix to protect an endangered species of cactus that grow only in one tiny area of Arizona. That area also happens to be where ADOT is building a replacement bridge over Pinto Creek on U.S. 60 near Globe-Miami. 

A few years ago,  ADOT began the project to replace the current bridge that went up during the Truman administration. Before that work began, ADOT partnered with botanists from the Desert Botanical Garden to make sure endangered hedgehog cactuses that grow in the construction zone were rescued. 

Project work will be completed in 2022 and the cactuses replanted. 

The rescue effort required several of the members of the Desert Botanical Garden team to rappel into the canyon, carefully dig up, cover and transport the plants to the Garden complex in Phoenix where the cactuses are being cared for and propagated.

One cool thing is that not only will the cactuses come home, there will be more of them because of the great work the Desert Botanical Garden is doing to make sure these plants don’t just survive, but thrive. 

Oh, and there will be a great new bridge, too. But that’s a story for another day. 

No matter your opinion of the desert, or, for that matter any part of our diverse and beautiful state, preserving the land and the wildlife is not only the law but it’s  worth doing, and doing well. That’s an ADOT priority. 

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