Saturday, January 26, 2013

Healthy Sabino vs. Buffelgrass Sabino

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh

Text by Mark Hengesbaugh:

This typical, healthy canyon slope by Sabino Road supports 20-25 species of plants, like saguaros, prickly pear, palo verde, brittlebush and cholla.

Photo by Mark Hengesbaugh
When buffelgrass takes over, as on this slope above Sabino Dam, the weed reduces plant variety to two species: buffelgrass and mature saguaros, no new saguaros grow. Buffelgrass infestations can double in size every two years.

Photo by Ned Harris
Mark is the red dot in the middle; pale yellow stuff is buffelgrass
That slope above Sabino Dam is now a wildfire to waiting to happen. If it burns it will kill the remaining saguaros and would likely bring the inferno down into the trees of Sabino Creek’s riparian area.
Let’s review: With healthy Sonoran Desert hillsides, a wide variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects thrive in Sabino Canyon. Where buffelgrass invades, it’s a dead-zone. When buffelgrass takes over a slope and burns, it will likely destroy everything in and around it. After that happens, healthy Sonoran Desert vegetation will not return until the buffelgrass is first prevented from re-growing.
Tomorrow: What to do?

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