Saguaro Cactus Removal + Arizona Cactus Laws
The iconic saguaro cactus, the largest cactus in the United States and the second-largest cactus in the world, is a staple of the American Southwest and an unmistakable feature of life in the East Valley. Measuring from 20 to 40 feet tall, and up to 70 feet tall in some cases, the saguaro cactus is a giant amongst the smaller desert trees and plants that grow in Arizona. Unfortunately, old and decaying saguaro cacti can also be a danger here in Phoenix. But before you think about removing that dying saguaro cactus from your home or business, make sure you first understand about laws protecting these important native plants.
Saguaro Protection Under the Arizona Native Plant Law
There are more than 3,000 species of flowering plants and ferns native to Arizona, and many of them are protected by law. The Arizona Native Plant Law was enacted to protect rare and culturally significant plant species, including cacti. The law protects desert plants from theft, vandalism, and “unnecessary destruction” (i.e., removal) on any lands.
There are four categories of protected plants that fall under the Arizona Native Plant Law, including “Highly Safeguarded” species. These plants, including saguaro cacti (Carnegiea gigantea), are threatened for survival or are in danger of extinction. Under the Arizona Native Plant Law, not only is the cactus protected by so are its fruits, seeds, and cuttings.
Removing a Saguaro from Your Home or Business
The Arizona Department of Agriculture website states the following regarding Landowners’ Rights:
Landowners have the right to destroy or remove plants growing on their land, but 20 to 60 days prior to the destruction of any protected native plants, landowners are required to notify the Department. The landowner also has the right to sell or give away any plant growing on the land. However, protected native plants may not be legally possessed, taken or transported from the growing site without a permit from the Arizona Department of Agriculture.
Individually owned residential property of 10 acres or less where initial construction has already occurred is exempt from notification before destruction. (See A.R.S. 3-904 H.)
Native Plant Laws and Rules | View the native plant rules here (on pages 41 – 51, starting with the section titled, “Appendix A. Protected Native Plants by Category” is the listing of protected native plants.)
Removing Saguaros: DIY or Hire a Pro?
There’s no law that says you must hire a professional cactus removal company to do the job. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should do it yourself, either.
Here are some of the top reasons to hire a professional to remove a saguaro cactus from your property:
- Saguaro cactus removal can be dangerous – Saguaro cacti are the second largest cactus species in the world. They are incredibly tall and can be unbelievably heavy (between 3,200 and 4,800 pounds when fully hydrated), and the sharp spines can have bacteria and fungi on the surface that may cause infections if you are punctured.
- Saguaro cactus removal can be tricky – How do you go about removing a giant saguaro cactus, anyway? Without the right equipment (and even sometimes with it) excavating and destroying a saguaro cactus can be a challenge since they have several “stalks” inside, so you might not know which way the cactus will fall if you have never cut one down before.
- Saguaro cactus removal can be hard – Saguaro cactus removal isn’t your average landscaping job. It can backbreaking work involving shovels, ropes, pulleys, chain saws, and sometimes even larger equipment like tractors and backhoes. Even if you have the extra hands and manpower to help out, the easiest solution is to call a professional instead.
Free East Valley Saguaro Removal Quotes
If you need help removing or relocating a saguaro, Jose Knows Trees (J&M Landscaping Services) can help! We have provided the best tree removal services in Mesa, Gilbert, and Chandler for a decade, and we specialize in cactus removal, too. Call or contact us online for a free quote for your saguaro removal.