A single act, done under the cover of darkness, recently turned thousands of native plants lovingly grown from seeds into little more than kindling. An unknown vandal, carrying gallons of herbicide and a professional sprayer, broke into the Pima County Native Plant Nursery off Roger Road last month and destroyed nearly $34,000 worth of plants.

The crime was discovered the morning after, too late to save most of the plants, with some of the trees and shrubs quickly losing their leaves after being spraying with the poison.

Other plants in the nursery seemed almost to fight the effects of the herbicide for a while, losing their foliage or vegetation days and even weeks after being sprayed.

Cacti in the nursery were largely spared from the vandal's toxic trigger.

"We have attempted to salvage what we can," said Robert Vaughn, with the Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation Department . "But thousands of plants were destroyed."

With no herbicides stored on site, the vandal had to bring a substantial amount of it — probably several gallons — and a professional sprayer to distribute the poison in one night, Vaughn said.

They didn't use a hand-pump sprayer, he said.

The replacement cost is estimated to be $33,700, Vaughn said, but many of the plants will be difficult to replace.

Most of the stock was grown from seeds gathered by county officials and volunteers, while others were rescued from construction sites.

"This isn't nursery stock we can buy somewhere," he explained.

Source: therepublic.com