Vandals hit Saguaro; city can't clean it up
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's a place people visit to get back to nature, but it's hard to enjoy the desert with a glaring reminder of city life, graffiti. It's not just on bridges or park railings. Vandals tagged saguaro cacti.
Two Saguaro are now stained with spray-paint in the Pantano River Path park near Broadway Blvd. Leslie Abel-Akey spotted it two days ago.
"I noticed it and was really disappointed because this is a nice area that we've put a lot of money into making this look nice," she said, "and people ruin it for everybody else."
She also said it adds worry to her nightly walks.
"I get a little concerned because I'm a female and I run by myself and it makes me wonder just what kind of people are out here," said Abel-Akey.
The markings were reported to Tucson Parks and Recreation, which is responsible for cleaning off graffiti in the city parks. Parks administrator Jim Conroy said in this case, however, they can't do anything.
"we don't want to damage the plant any more," he said, "When it's on brick and mortar or a sign we do want to remove it as timely as we can, however I also don't want to do something rash to remove it and kill a healthy plant that would survive."
Tohono Chul Park plant curator Russ Buhrow agrees.
"If you get a graffiti'd tree that has bark it's not a big deal," he said, "If you get something like this it's a bigger deal because you can't really take it off without causing further damage."
Buhrow says he would suggest relocating the plants where they won't be subject to spray-painting vandals. In the meantime, Abel-Akey has a message for whoever is responsible.
"This is a small area in the city where we can come out and enjoy and be part of the desert," she said, "Don't ruin it for people."
Buhrow estimates the cacti to be between 30 and 50 years old. While Saguaro are not on the endangered species list, they are a protected species under state law. Vandals could face fines and community service.