The Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument is celebrating National Public Lands Day on September 29 by removing the invasive plant buffelgrass from portions of the Sonoran Desert National Monument.
Volunteers from the Friends of the Sonoran Desert National Monument, the BLM, REI and the Desert Botanical Garden will team up to remove a buffelgrass infestation near the South Maricopa Mountains.
Using hand tools, volunteers will remove this plant from a desert wash. The infestation is relatively small at this time, but recent monsoon rains have given this grass a boost.
The National Public Lands Day event will begin at 8:00 am and last until noon. Lunch will be provided. Registration required. To register, please email email@example.com.
Buffelgrass, an African bunch grass that evolved with wildfire and heavy grazing pressure, was brought to the United States and Mexico as forage for domestic livestock. It grows so well in this area that it can easy out-compete native grasses and other plants for space, water and nutrients.
Non-native species often times out-compete native species because they may have advantages such as resistance to native diseases and insects that native species do not. Because buffelgrass grows fast and is perennial it can easily overwhelm an area. In addition it is adapted to periodic wildfire whereas most Sonoran desert plants are not. After a fire and with suitable rainfall buffelgrass can sprout from its roots forming a buffelgrass monoculture. Vast areas in Sonora, Mexico are now buffelgrass monocultures that occasionally fuel catastrophic wildfires.
Because Sonoran desert plants, such as palo verde trees and all cactuses, photosynthesize on the surface of their trunks and stems they are extremely susceptible to fire. For more information about buffelgrass as a threat to the Sonoran desert go to the Buffelgrass Coordination Center’s website: www.buffelgrass.org.