Combating Invasive Plants in Public Lands!

Combating Invasive Plants in Public Lands!

Crew Member Lucero holding tool

Week 2 of the Saguaro Conservation Corps means getting on your hands and knees to pull out Bufflegrass (Pennisetum ciliare). What is an invasive species? It is an organism that was introduced to a habitat due to humans. Buffelgrass has a major impact in the Sonoran Desert, first it is not a food source for any of the animals that live here, second, it sucks nutrients and water away from native plants and third to top it off, it creates a large fire hazard! Buffel grass is originally from a habitat that has a lot of wildfires, here in the Sonoran Desert, fires are not common therefore the native plants are not adapted to surviving through large fires which is why the Park is doing everything it can to slow the progression of the spread.

During a typical day of pulling Buffelgrass, we start our mornings at 7am at the resource management building, then we take a trip in the 15 person van to the trail head of the preselected area. From there we hike on and off trail to get to the enemies’ territory. Our plan of attack is hand to hand fighting. The crew members all get a pick tool with a sharp point and a flat side, with the tool we make sure to pick out the buffelgrass taking extra care to make sure we get the nodes at the base of the roots. If we were to leave the nodes behind the grass would be able to grow again and our efforts would be minimized.

Pulling Buffelgrass is hard and tedious work, but at the end you are rewarded by uncovering small plants that were fighting against the invasive plant and you know that all your efforts were used to keep the park lasting longer for the next generation of nature lovers.

Before Buffelgrass Pulling
After pulling Buffelgrass
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