Jeff Wallner
Jeff Wallner

Jeff Wallner, a park guide at Saguaro National Park East, has been observing the human and natural cycles at the park, the most celebrated and studied cactus area in the world, for 20 years.

He notes that over the years the cycles of this spectacular resource have changed from wonder to worry as the older saguaros died off, and then to guarded optimism as a new generation sprouted in the 1980s and ’90s.

Wallner will share his observations in a lecture entitled “The Changing Cactus Forest” next Thursday (March 13) at the Arizona Senior Academy.

His talk will range over the last 80 years of protection and change in this iconic forest, and then explore the latest scientific speculation on the next 80 years as the earth’s changing climate presents new challenges to Saguaro and our other National Parks. Also examined will be the Sonoran Desert’s biggest current challenge, the invasive fire-adapted Buffelgrass.

Wallner’s roots as a naturalist go back to New Hampshire, where he studied natural resource management and environmental communication. He earned an advanced degree from Antioch University New England Graduate School. Before coming here he was education director for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, one of the nation’s oldest non-profit conservation organizations.

When he first came to Saguaro National Park East, he shared his summer hours working at either Mesa Verde National Park or Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, but is now here year-round. His duties include guided walks and talks, interpretive sign and publication design, operation of the Visitor Center and youth-oriented programs for the Junior Ranger Camp and the Cactus Ranger volunteer group.

What does a park ranger do in his spare time? Wallner visits national parks – in this case 365 of the 401 units in the National Park system so far!

Submitted by Betty Feinberg, Academy Village Volunteer

[box type=”info”] Interested in attending? Click here.[/box]
Will Climate Change Affect Saguaro National Park East?: March 2014