Bufflegrass Attack - Tucson News Now

Bufflegrass Attack

Mark Stine KOLD News 13 Reporter
Posted: 5-16-05

All it takes is a little spark, and this harmless looking grass can turn into a flaming fire in seconds.

"Bufflegrass is the most serious plant pest ever to strike the Sonoran Desert," Travis Bean with the U of A said.

You might remember a fire on the Southside just off of Irvington on May 5th. It was first reported as a brush fire, but we now know that's not the case. "This was not a brush fire, it was a Bufflegrass fire," Bean said.

This fire didn't help get rid of the pesky grass, it actually helped it. "It's a positive feed back for the Bufflegrass. The more it burns, the thicker it gets, which leads to more frequent and hotter burns. It's a vicious cycle," Bean told KOLD News 13.

But it's not just here on the Southside, Travis Bean says, it's taking over much of Southern Arizona. "It's probably easier to go to any given block and find Bufflegrass in town, than it is to find a block without it."

Bufflegrass was introduced to the Sonoran Desert in the 1930's by ranchers as a food source for cattle. And by miners to help prevent erosion. Now, it's spreading and taking over the landscape.

Bean says the grass isn't easy to spot, but it is identifiable. "None of the native grasses in Tucson have these foxtail seed heads."

This nasty grass is also threatening Sabino Canyon and the Catalina Mountains.

Heidi Schewel with Coronado National Forest is worried Bufflegrass could eventually take over. "Theoretically we could end up with just an African Grassland, these ecosystems could completely be replaced."

The Bufflegrass is so aggressive it kills many plants in it's path. "It is better at getting the resources, the limited moisture, the limited soil nutrients, than the native plants," Schewel said.

Travis Bean says if local residents don't attack the grass now, it will be too late. "Not only to protect your own property, but to be a good neighbor, to keep it from spreading and infesting your neighbors property."

You can use weed killer if the Bufflegrass is still green. If it's brown and dry, you need to dig it up by the roots and throw it away.

If you are wondering if your yard is being taken over by Bufflegrass you can call Travis Bean at the U of A to help. His number is 629-9455, extension 104.

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