Friday Photo: Four Tons of Buffelgrass No Match for Hard-Working Volunteers

Volunteers pull more than four tons of invasive plants from Saguaro National Park.

Volunteers pull more than four tons of invasive plants from Saguaro National Park. Photo © Kevin Dahl/NPCA.

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). NPCA also produced a podcast (listen here) that explains the wildfire risk buffelgrass presents to the area, and why it’s important to remove. 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

NPCA Arizona Senior Program Manager Kevin Dahl

Kevin Dahl is NPCA’s senior program manager in Arizona. He authored Native Harvest: Authentic Southwestern Gardening, published by Western National Parks Association. Kevin is a very friendly guy, as evidenced by his service on the boards of Friends of Saguaro National Park, Friends of Petrified Forest, and Friends of the Sonoran Desert.