This Sunday, January 26 offers families a chance to volunteer and help save Arizona‘s natural vegetation. Sunday is Beat Back Bufflegrass Day. It is a county wide event, with plans for pulling or spraying bufflegrass in many locations around Pima County, as well as a chance to remove it from your yard or neighborhood.
Why this effort? Bufflegrass is “a wildfire waiting to happen” according to the pamphlet by the buffelgrass organization. It is highly fire prone for several reasons. It spreads rapidly and forms dense stands of grass that generate hot fires. Hot fires burn longer and hotter than regular grass fires, which often burn quickly - moving too fast to seriously harm saguaro cactus and other desert plants. Hot buffelgrass fires will kill our majestic giant saguaros. Saguaros take hundreds of years to reach their great height and grow many arms.
Buffelgrass is an imported species of grass that forms dense stands of grass that crowd out native plants and grasses. Buffelgrass is relatively easy to identify, and there are two options for killing it.
If it is green, it can be sprayed with glyphosate herbicide.
Dry grass can be dug up and put in plastic bags to keep the seed from spreading.
1. bunch grass -- all stems come from a centralized point to form a large 'clump'
2. color -- plants quickly respond to moisture by turning bright green; during dry periods, the plants become a golden brown. Previous season's growth remains on the plant and fades to a light gray.
3. bottlebrush inflorescence -- the seeds develop on the end of a stalk, which has a slightly fuzzy appearance that looks like a bottlebrush
4. rough rachis -- the central stem that used to contain the inflorescence seeds is extremely rough if you run your fingers from the bottom to the top
5. hairy ligule -- area where the leaf blade diverges from the stem, when the leaf blade is pulled slightly away from the stem delicate hairs are obvious
6. rough leaf blade -- the leaf blade contains small stiff hairs so if you run your fingers gently along the blade from the stem to the tip of the leaf it will feel 'rough'.
Buffelgrass presents a consistent struggle to eliminate it. Besides volunteering for this weekend, there are other ways to help educate others and continue to volunteer during planned removal events.
Set a good example by removing invasive species from your yard. Then encourage your neighbors and friends to do the same.
Schedule a buffelgrass presentation for your church, home owner's association, or other community group to learn more about what can be done. (520) 615-7855 or email the Pima County Environmental Education Department
Volunteer at SABCC if you would like to do office work, research or help with the mapping effort.
Participate in a volunteer weed pull. Weed pulls are regularly scheduled in a variety of locations and you may join in these efforts throughout the year. Click to see scheduled weed pulls: Buffelgrass Calendar
So grab a shovel this weekend and get the family out for some worthwhile exercise. Protect our natural desert environment - remove buffelgrass. Check on ways to continue the fight against buffelgrass.