A team of dedicated workers fights back against a ubiquitous plant that is taking over precious desert landscapes.
Last weekend, thousands of people around the country turned out to participate in National Public Lands Day, including about 60 volunteers who helped pull an invasive plant known as buffelgrass from areas around Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Arizona.
It was a hot day. Soaring temperatures meant we had to start early in the morning and quit around 11 a.m.—but even in that short window, we accomplished some impressive work. A coalition of agencies and nonprofits worked together to clear a road that connects the west side of Saguaro National Park with Ironwood Forest National Monument. We pulled out 270 bags, at an average of 30 pounds each, for a total of more than four tons of this invasive weed.
This work is increasingly important as buffelgrass spreads throughout the Sonoran Desert. Not only does the grass suppress native plants, it also increases the chances that wildfires will spread and destroy large swaths of desert life. Some 2,000 acres of land inside Saguaro National Park are affected by the weed, threatening the fragile ecosystem, including the health of the park’s stately namesake cactus.
Learn more about the fight to protect Saguaro National Park from buffelgrass with this informative Park Service fact sheet (PDF, 6.6 MB). If you live in the Tucson region and missed last weekend’s event, you can find more ways to get involved through the Friends of Saguaro National Park and Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center.
About the author
Kevin Dahl Former Arizona Senior Program Manager
Kevin Dahl works as Arizona's Senior Program Manager in the Southwest region. He focuses on issues concerning Arizona's national parks, including such well-known places as Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, and Saguaro.