We do not inherit the
earth from our ancestors,
we borrow it from
our children.
- Native American Wisdom

Fighting Invasive Buffelgrass

The overriding invasive species problem at Saguaro National Park is African buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) -- as it has the potential to fuel intense, destructive fires in a Sonoran Desert ecosystem that is not fire-adapted.  Friends of Saguaro has been assisting the NPS with buffelgrass control activities since 2006 -- providing both funding and volunteer support for efforts to fight this invasive species.

Aerial surveys were conducted in 2008 and 2012, to map the extent of buffelgrass infestations within both districts of the park.  Using sophisticated mapping software, the park mapped more than 1,800 acres of buffelgrass.  The NPS needed to document the distribution and quantity of buffegrass stands within the park, estimate the growth and spread of the infestations, and then prioritize treatment of those infested areas.

Recently, Saguaro National Park and the Coronado National Forest received "Resilient Landscape Program" (RLP) funding from the Department of Interior to help address the buffelgrass problem throughout southern Arizona.  With its generally sparse plant life, the region's desert has been protecting local communities from the threat of wildfire.  This is changing, however, as buffelgrass spreads further into the desert;  wildfires starting in the surrounding mountains will be able to quickly move downhill, using continuous stands of buffelgrass for fuel.  Ensuring resilient landscapes and fire-adapted communities depends on the implementation of a regional, broad-based, collaborative, and cohesive strategy to better address the mounting challenges of escalating fire behavior, and increased threats to communities.