PHOENIX — More than 193,000 acres were burned in the Bush Fire, which sparked in June 2020 after a vehicle apparently overheated near the highway. That fire became the fifth-largest wildfire in the state's history.
Over the weekend, volunteers gathered to plant more than 300 cacti, wildflowers, and indigenous grasses, efforts to help heal the burn scar from that fire.
For Erin Schultz, the effort to reverse the damage is personal.
"I was born and raised in Arizona so I have driven the Beeline Highway many times. The iconic views of the Four Peaks Mountains with the Saguaros are one of my favorite things," she said.
Tempe-based Four Peaks Brewing Co., along with the National Forest Foundation, Tonto National Forest, and Natural Restorations, a nonprofit organization, banded together for their yearly "Save Our Saguaros" event.
"It's a great time to come out and add life to the forest. You can come back here with your friends and family even decades from now and see the fruits of your efforts," said Nicole Corey, the executive director & co-founder of Natural Restorations.
More than 80,000 Saguaro cacti were impacted by the wildfire.
Volunteers coming out to help is a welcome sight for Bec Veerman, who works for the U.S. Forest Service. Though, she would like to see more young people take part, whether with their families or through school field trips.
"It's always great to see parents bring kids to revegetation events," she said. "It's hard for the schools not being able to fund buses."
"The kind of effort we're seeing here today, even small in scope, is really an important part of much a larger landscape effort. To understand how to plant cacti and to learn how to replant landscape," said Rebecca Davidson, director of the Southern Rockies Region with The National Forest Foundation.
The groups have pledged to revegetate portions of the Bush Fire burn scar for the next five to 10 years.