Desert Landscaping: Going Native for Tucson’s Rivers

tucson_santacruz_flood_ca1903On Sustainable Living Tucson, an interesting article was brought to my attention and I ‘d like for those of you who are interested in desert landscape, groundwater, preserving nature, read this!

Here is a taste:

There are some things that just drive me crazy! Like…why are there still patches of lawn in the Tucson desert? And those little rocks that get caught in your sandals – gravel!  I understand why people put gravel in their yards.  I don’t want to spend all weekend weeding either. But if you look at the sun cracked, gravel covered plastic we use to tame it, there are signs of life (weeds) breaking through. When some people think of the desert, they think of dirt. But our dirt is brimming with untamed life.

When I first came to Tucson, I was amazed by all the green in our desert: our famous saguaros, prickly pears towering over roof tops, agaves with stalks resembling giant asparagus, and cholla cactuses lining the horizon like furry puppies glowing in the afternoon sun.  (Don’t try petting them though!) Twisted and gnarled Mesquite and Palo Verde trees grow amok. This time of year wild flowers speckle the ground. The desert hums with bees pollinating brilliant cactus blooms. Our tough desert plants are adept at storing water for the long dry spells.

There are seasons when our desert has an overabundance of water. In the spring, icy water bounds down the Catalina Mountains into rushing rivers and streams. During Monsoon season, our washes rage and overflow. Not enough of this water sinks into our aquifer, because the caliche ground has turned hard from inconsistent rain. Instead our precious rain water is collected in city streets to be polluted with automobile oil then left to evaporate on its way out of town. Lack of foresight and understanding have left us with no infrastructure to retain the water for our daily use. Miles and miles of cement aqueducts bring us water from the Colorado River. But we are beginning to see how vulnerable that supply is as poisonous tailings from long abandoned mines leak into Colorado’s rivers reaching as far as our own Lake Powell.

Finish Reading here.

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