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Save Our Saguaros!

You can help us save saguaros and the animals that call them home. From what? Buffelgrass and fountaingrass! These invasive grasses smother young saguaros and fuel fires that can kill both young and old saguaros alike. Most of our native plants are not adapted to fire. In contrast, buffelgrass thrives on fire. This is one of the major dangers of buffelgrass. If a fire occurs in an uninvaded desert setting, it burns out quickly, but if fire starts in a buffelgrass-invaded desert, it will spread rapidly as far as this fire-loving grass will carry it.

In August 2019, lightning ignited a buffelgrass fire in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The left image, taken by a firefighter on the scene, captures a saguaro whose base is engulfed in flames fueled by buffelgrass. Thanks to our firefighters, and to the rain that fell soon after, this fire grew to only 25 acres. The right image below shows the scene two months post-fire.

A saguaro-laden slope, with the foreground saguaro engulfed in flames  Looking up a saguaro-laden slope, with a bright blue sky above

Buffelgrass fueled fires can convert a rich desert ecosystem into a barren buffelgrass grassland almost overnight. If left unchecked, buffelgrass, and its close cousin fountaingrass, will fuel larger, more frequent fires in the wildlands that surround the city of Tucson, impacting not just saguaros, but all of our native desert plants and the animals that depend on them.

Buffelgrass on a slope Fountain grass on a slope


Left: Buffelgrass — Right: Fountaingrass

But with the help of our community, we can keep buffelgrass and fountaingrass in check. So what can you do to help?

Volunteer for a buffelgrass pull or mapping event
Register your own buffelgrass pull
Request a presentation
Request a Buffelgrass ID Guide
Free your yard of buffelgrass
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