Arizona Lottery Helping To Save Saguaros From Wildfires

Written By C.J. Pierre on June 28, 2022 - Last Updated on January 30, 2023

The Arizona Lottery is unveiling its newest ‘Gives Back’ sponsorship program. The organization is establishing the Tonto National Forest Goldfield Fire Center’s Cactus Nursery.

The program is in partnership with the National Forest Foundation’s “Save Our Saguaros” conservation initiative. It is another in a long line of initiatives the Arizona Lottery is using to help the state.

How Arizona Lottery is protecting saguaro cactus

The Arizona Lottery and its ‘Gives Back’ program is transferring $5,000 in sponsorships to fund and launch the Goldfield Fire Center’s Cactus Nursery. The money also secures another $20,000 in matching funds for a $25,000 total impact.

John Gilliland, Arizona Lottery’s public information officer, says the project aligns with the Arizona Lottery’s commitment to environmental conservation.

“The mission of the Arizona Lottery is to support Arizona programs for the public benefit by providing fun while giving back,” said Gilliland. “This nursery supports that mission by working to help Saguaros – a symbol of the Southwest and unique to Arizona – overcome wildfire and invasive species to continue to thrive for future generations to enjoy.”

The nursery is located on the Tonto National Forest near the area burned by the Bush Fire. The major wildfire started in June of 2020 and burned over 193,000 acres. It will provide a safe environment for salvaged saguaros and other native cacti. They will also be protected and conditioned for restoration within the burn scar.

Saguaros synonymous with Arizona

Many may not know this, but the Arizona state tree is the Blue palo verde. You can find them in the desert and the foothills of Arizona. According to the State library, when the trees bloom in late spring, they look like gold.

However, when people think of plant life in Arizona, they are most likely picturing a saguaro cactus. The new Goldfield Nursery Facility is a cactus rehabilitation nursery that aims to protect and restore Arizona’s iconic plant.

Arizona Lottery officials say this project is a first of its kind. They also say the rehabilitated cacti that are re-planted will count towards the National Forest Foundation’s “50 Million For Our Forests” campaign due to their importance in Arizona’s ecosystem.

“We are truly grateful for the Arizona Lottery Gives Back Sponsorship, which has allowed the National Forest Foundation to catalyze partner action after the Bush Fire, to leverage resources to restore these important landscapes and watersheds, and to find creative ways to protect Arizona’s iconic saguaro cacti and the Sonoran Desert ecosystem” said Rebecca Davidson, National Forest Foundation’s Southwest Region Director.

The Arizona Lottery is one of the state’s leading monetary contributors to environmental conservation. The Lottery has given back more than $10 million annually to various environmental conservation programs and organizations.

Photo by Dr. Juergen Bochynek
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C.J. Pierre

CJ Pierre is a multimedia journalist currently residing in the Phoenix-Metro Area in Arizona. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis and an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. CJ has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career. Most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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