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  • Buffelgrass Invasion

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    Informational video about the invasive species Buffelgrass and its threat to the Sonoran Desert ecosystem and its dependent community and economy.

    Update on Buffelgrass Effort in Southern Arizona:

    In February 2007, a Buffelgrass Summit held at a local resort engaged 120 representatives from NGOs and public agencies, and led to completion of a strategic plan and organization of a Forum for regional decision makers a year later ( On their recommendation, a Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center (SABCC) was established in November 2008 to help mobilize and coordinate across the private and public sectors. In summer 2009, SABCC hired its first Executive Director, Dr. Lindy Brigham. An advantage over other coordinating bodies is the singular focus on mitigation of buffelgrass and the growing wildfire risks, and the inclusion of top government officials, NGO heads, and key business leaders in the SABCC Board of Directors. Coordination of regional buffelgrass management will enable partners to sustain ecological goods and services essential for tourism and recreation; lessen threats to both endangered and iconic species (saguaro, ironwood); create firebreaks that will prevent ignition fronts in desert valleys from spreading into our national parks and forests; and reduce fire suppression costs and protect lives, public infrastructure, and private property. SABCC is presently working with a local environmental firm on a regional mapped assessment for levels of infestation, eventual ecological and economic costs if unaddressed, method and cost of initial control, and strategies and annual cost of sustained management after initial control. SABCC is also collaborating with the USGS Invasives Species Science Branch and ESSA Technologies to develop a decision analysis model in which transitions of individual grid cells can be monitored from one infestation level to another due to accelerated spread or successful mitigation, whichever may be the case.

    Both the public and private sectors are quickly ramping up to meet the buffelgrass challenge. Over the past decade, control efforts have accelerated, culminating in treatment of more than 1500 acres on public lands and right-of-ways in 2008 and 2009. The buffelgrass issue is receiving significant media attention, and local TV cable companies have donated abundant air time for public service announcements, much of it during prime time. Public participation is on the rise. In spring 2009, over 100 volunteers pulled buffelgrass in the Tucson area each month and a similar volunteer effort is under way in Phoenix. In Pima County, Beat Back Buffelgrass Day (; attracts hundreds of residents each year to pull buffelgrass on public lands and right-of-ways.

    The Arizona State government has declared buffelgrass a noxious weed, and local governments have drafted ordinances to encourage utilities, developers, and private landowners to control buffelgrass on their properties and right-of-ways.
    On April 10, 2010, Congressional Field Hearings on the Buffelgrass Issue were held in Tucson, organized by Rep. Raul Grijalva and the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and other Public Lands ( The timing of the hearings was fortuitous as SABCC had recently submitted an appropriations request for $2.1 M through several congressional offices in southern and central Arizona. The appropriations project is for a 2-yr Buffelgrass Planning and Mitigation Exercise across 5 different agencies and 14 different national parks, monuments, refuges, forests and military reservations.


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