Floristic survey of Rio Vista Natural Resource Park in Tucson

Posted Oct 04, 2020

John Scheuring and Gay Gilbert on a plant survey. Identifying plants without leaves, flowers or fruit is challenging!

In June 2020, the Tucson Chapter of AZNPS took on an important new project: to create a plant list for the Rio Vista Natural Resource Park in midtown Tucson.  The Rio Vista Conservation Project, in collaboration with the City of Tucson Department of Parks and Recreation, approached the Tucson Chapter to ask for help.  The Rio Vista Conservation Project attempts to identify and solve problems that might threaten the park’s integrity, and works to develop a long-term conservation plan that will guide the park in managing its resources effectively.   They wanted an up-to-date survey of the vegetation and plant species diversity in the Park to inform their ongoing conservation goals.

Despite the challenges of working on this project during the pandemic while maintaining social distancing and protecting public health, Tucson chapter members Suzie Husband and Melanie Campbell-Carter took the lead in organizing the plant census project and maintaining the collective records of plant surveys.  Eleven volunteers made 23 visits to the park in June and July, surveying and documenting the plants then present. Even in this drier-and-hotter-than-ever-before summer, 74 plant species were identified.

Because many plants in Arizona show strong seasonality, the group plans to continue the plant surveys throughout the seasons, with the next one scheduled for the end of September and into October, 2020.  They also welcome more volunteers who might want to participate in  this important project.  This is a wonderful opportunity for interested citizens to increase their knowledge and to hobnob with other plant experts.   If this piques your interest and you would like to volunteer or find out more, send an email to: [email protected]. Melanie Campbell-Carter and Suzie Husband will be glad to respond to your questions.