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Cake and Cacti Celebration at Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park, divided in eastern and western units on either side of Tucson, is home to Arizona's most iconic cactus, which is also among the world's rarest. Courtesy: National Park Service
Saguaro National Park, divided in eastern and western units on either side of Tucson, is home to Arizona's most iconic cactus, which is also among the world's rarest. Courtesy: National Park Service
August 25, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. – Saguaro National Park in the Tucson area is celebrating the ninety-ninth anniversary of the National Park Service today, with cake and free admission for visitors vying to see some of the rarest types of cacti in the world.

Andy Fisher with Saguaro National Park says the rugged desert area offers an up-close view of one of nature's greatest natural treasures – a hardy cactus with an average lifespan of 150 years.

"What most people in the nation don't realize is Saguaro cactus really are restricted geographically to just this touch of Southern Arizona," says Fisher. "We were set aside specifically to understand that plant better."

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to create the National Park Service. Today, Saguaro is one of 408 National Parks throughout the country. It was founded in 1933.

Fisher says as the National Park Service moves toward next year's centennial celebration, there is a focus on connecting with the next generation of park visitors.

"How do we find those young people," asks Fisher. "How do we cultivate and invest in young people, so that they also start using the national parks, in the way that some of their grandparents and parents were users of the National Park Service?"

Fisher adds that Saguaro National Park is unique among National Parks because it borders a city's boundaries – whereas most National Parks are located in more rural or remote areas.

Lori Abbott/Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ