Saguaro cacti have a relatively long lifespan—often exceeding 150-175 years with their first arm sprouting around age 75-100—and can reach 40 feet in height. Thanks to conservation efforts, the once endangered plant native to the Sonoran desert of Arizona and parts of eastern California has gone from endangered to thriving.
Harming or vandalizing a saguaro in any manner is a class four felony and punishable with a possible 3 year, 9 month maximum sentence.
Unless you're destroying them to make way for President Donald Trump's border wall.
With Trump's wall announcement came news it would be exempt from all environmental regulations and protections due to Trump's "national emergency."
Footage of what that means was made public as video of crews destroying hundred year old seguaros in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument spread on social media.
This is what it looks like when national parks are sacrificed for a #borderwall. Footage at Organ Pipe Cactus Natio… https://t.co/ZRzEEG9pgd— National Parks Conservation Association (@National Parks Conservation Association) 1570229399.0
@LaikenJordahl @Geeurcrazy @NPCA Trump could care less what he destroys. It’s all about him.— Grandma Roxy (@Grandma Roxy) 1570220152.0
The footage shot by Kevin Dahl—Arizona Senior Program Manager of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)—soon drew outrage. Army Corps officials previously stated the agency would relocate saguaros, organ pipe, ocotillo and other types of cacti out of the wall construction site.
@LaikenJordahl @NPCA Any Arborist or Master Gardener could have been consulted on excavation & relocation for penni… https://t.co/9T4efTIXy6— WorkingBananas (@WorkingBananas) 1570230523.0
@LaikenJordahl @Stonekettle @NPCA Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a U.S. National Monument and UNESCO biosph… https://t.co/fBvEsmfG4T— Just A Girl 💙💙 (@Just A Girl 💙💙) 1570281186.0
@LaikenJordahl @Stonekettle @NPCA NOoooooo! It can take 10 YEARS for a Saguaro cactus to reach 1” in height In 70… https://t.co/NToxXY92ml— 🆘#ImpeachTrump!😷 (@🆘#ImpeachTrump!😷) 1570282333.0
But when Dahl visited Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument bulldozers were hard at work knocking down the multi-ton saguaros and other desert plants and piling them all into slash piles.
"At that point, what they were doing was destruction, not construction."
VIDEO: Saguaros are being bulldozed for the #BorderWall in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Trump's reckless bo… https://t.co/n8NkLSGfUj— Laiken Jordahl (@Laiken Jordahl) 1570218026.0
Dahl also spoke of the Tohono O'odham Nation whose remaining tribal lands lie just east of the national monument.
@LaikenJordahl @Foxer_421 @NPCA These are *sacred* to the O'odham nation. This isn't just a crime, it's an atrocity.— dⒶwn 🏳️⚧️ 🛡️ 🏴 🌱 💣 (@dⒶwn 🏳️⚧️ 🛡️ 🏴 🌱 💣) 1570262525.0
@IBiegen @LaikenJordahl @Foxer_421 @NPCA the tohono o'odham rez lies to the east, but the park—among other things—i… https://t.co/PJrL0dePtn— dⒶwn 🏳️⚧️ 🛡️ 🏴 🌱 💣 (@dⒶwn 🏳️⚧️ 🛡️ 🏴 🌱 💣) 1570292574.0
Hon'mana Seukteoma, an Indigenous activist, stated:
"In O'odham stories, ha:sañ (saguaro cactus) are our people. They give us so many blessings and we respect them so deeply."
"Seeing this ha:sañ ripped out of the ground for this border wall construction breaks my heart. The Tohono O'odham Nation doesn't want this border wall! We don't want this border wall for the destruction and desecration of the land it will bring to us."
In O’odham stories, ha:sañ (saguaro cactus) are our people. They give us so many blessings & we respect them so dee… https://t.co/4TzJpa0F4b— Hon’mana🖤♏️🕸 (@Hon’mana🖤♏️🕸) 1570190453.0
We don’t want this border wall for the destruction and desecration of the land it will bring to us. I feel like a b… https://t.co/M7AskLwLpM— Hon’mana🖤♏️🕸 (@Hon’mana🖤♏️🕸) 1570190717.0
@seukteomaaa @NoMoreDeaths Saguaros grow exactly one place on Earth. This is sickening.— Mike Day (@Mike Day) 1570285428.0
@seukteomaaa @LaikenJordahl So sad this is happening to your community and our planet. All because of hate and fear.— CanuckKim (@CanuckKim) 1570223747.0
@seukteomaaa I'm so sorry for the sacrilege, the Tohono O’odham Nation is facing while Trump admin builds a wall th… https://t.co/BEXsnNEJmp— Laura Quick (@Laura Quick) 1570339388.0
And more than saguaros are in peril.
@LaikenJordahl @NPCA This is a Mexican Jaguar only a couple left on the So Arizona border with Mexico. #Individual1… https://t.co/puEYIIXunj— GenXNukeBaby (@GenXNukeBaby) 1570291985.0
@GenXNukeBaby @LaikenJordahl @NPCA Very sad, all for his stupid vanity wall.— Just me (@Just me) 1570368139.0
@LaikenJordahl @wtpickens1 @NPCA This is so gross! Unfortunately for Americans and our environment his tyrant presi… https://t.co/h56TwJKDxD— Alison (@Alison) 1570227021.0
@LaikenJordahl @NPCA To restore order in the universe Mar-a-Lago must be bulldozed. #travesty— Eleven Elven Elvises’ Pelvises (@Eleven Elven Elvises’ Pelvises) 1570241453.0
In addition to environmentalists, archeologists and anthropologists are also fighting to preserve the 16,000 years worth of historical sites also in the wall's path of destruction.
@LaikenJordahl @NPCA Nothing is more important to this dictatorship than "The Great Wall of TRUMP". He heard that C… https://t.co/wuw9b3JgSq— Nikolai Roaminoff (@Nikolai Roaminoff) 1570244874.0
@LaikenJordahl @NPCA Rise up for public lands folks because this greedy criminal organization will destroy all of i… https://t.co/5kmCkj9Pw5— Val Miller (@Val Miller) 1570219193.0
As mentioned, destruction or vandalism of a saguaro is a felony. Entering the United States without proper paperwork is at most a misdemeanor and not illegal if the person is seeking asylum.
The series by documentarian Ken Burns, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, is available here.