Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Shoulders of a Giant

Story and photos by guest blogger Mark Hengesbaugh

African invasive Buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) is taking over near the popular Blackett’s Ridge trail and a quiet hero hikes up with hand tools to try to stop it. Richard Humprey, Weedwacker and Sabino Steward, has accomplished a huge feat by cutting a lower perimeter to the massive infestation.

Why worry? Look closely at the perimeter that Richard has cleared of Buffelgrass (photo below) and you’ll find nearly every native species of plant dead and no sprouts coming up. All the native plants are smothered or crowded out. Then, when the Buffelgrass goes dry and dormant, it can burn hot enough to melt metal.

Studies by the University of Arizona show that this Buffelgrass takeover reduces the 15-20 native species on our hillsides to just 2-5. You can find this study and other important information on Sabino's invasive species problem here on the Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists website 

What you can do: The roads to Sabino Canyon are a principal pathway for this Sonoran Desert-killing invader. When you spot buffelgrass on the road shoulder, note the major cross streets then go to Pima County’s Buffelgrass Complaint Form to report it. This form also allows you to submit photos electronically.

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