The rapid spread of buffelgrass through the Sonoran Desert rivals climate change and water scarcity as our region’s most pressing environmental issue. Buffelgrass is one of many plants that were brought here from other parts of the world. Lacking the insects, diseases, and other organisms that helped keep them in check back home, some have spread like wildfire, much to the detriment of our native plants and animals.

Buffelgrass is the worst of these invasive plants because it is not only invading our desert, but it’s also transforming our formerly fire-proof desert into a fire-prone grassland. It creates a heavy, continuous layer of fuel that can result in fast-moving, damaging wildfires. These wildfires kill native plants, however buffelgrass thrives on fire. Consequently, a buffelgrass fire transforms our biologically rich desert into non-diverse grassland literally overnight. Yet even in the absence of fire this transformation proceeds, just at a slower pace. As buffelgrass out-competes native plants for space, water and nutrients. The fight to control buffelgrass is the fight to save an ecosystem and some of the most magnificent stands of saguaros in the world.

What can you do? Kim Franklin, Conservation Research Scientist with the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum empowers us with the knowledge to take action. Watch to learn more!

Great resources for further information:

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Saguaro National Park

Click here for more information on Tucson Electric Power’s environmental stewardship.