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What can you do to combat buffelgrass in Southern Arizona?

You can volunteer to beat back the invasive species
Workers will use herbicides to slow the spread of buffelgrass in Saguaro National Park.
Posted at 2:43 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-03 17:43:09-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Buffelgrass is an invasive plant species in southern Arizona that can make it easy for wildfires to start and spread in our region.

According to Saguaro National Park, buffelgrass is native to Africa and countries in the Middle East and Asia. There, it's adapted to savannah grasslands where frequent fires are part of the natural ecosystem. Native species there like buffelgrass can survive and even thrive on hot fires.

Buffelgrass was used in the 1970s and 1980s in southern Arizona for erosion control and cattle forage. Now, they've taken over the desert floor and provide large amounts of fuel for wildfires to spread in ways it couldn't otherwise.

So what can we do to keep desert grass out of our beautiful Sonoran Desert?

  • In Saguaro National Park, you can volunteer for a buffelgrass pull in the Rincon Mountain District or the Tucson Mountain District. There's even a weeklong camping trip for volunteers to pull buffelgrass near the Madrona Pools.
  • You can take part in the "Weed-Free Trails Program" from Saguaro National Park. You can hike the park's trails with staff while learning about plant identification, navigation, cultural site recognition and more.
  • If you spot buffelgrass in federal or state parklands, officials ask that you not pull it if you aren't an official volunteer. You can email the park if you'd like to become one.
  • If you think you may have buffelgrass on your property, check out this guide from Saguaro National Park on how to identify and remove the plant.
  • Take part in the Sonoran Desert Museum's "Map-A-Thon," which asks for the public's help mapping buffelgrass growth across our region.

This map is the result of the Sonoran Desert Museum's "Bi-National Save Our Saguaros Map-A-Thon":