Saguaro National Park to spray for buffelgrass

Saguaro National Park to spray for buffelgrass
Buffelgrass

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Crews in Saguaro National Park will soon be working to get rid of buffelgrass in the park, as part of a plan to protect and restore native vegetation and wildlife habitats.

Buffelgrass, is an invasive plant species that forces native plants to compete for resources like nutrients and water, and provides excess fuel for wildfires.

Starting in the middle of July and continuing for the next two to three months, park officials will be using ground crews to manually remove and apply herbicide to the buffelgrass. This is done also as a safety measure, to help lower the risk of wildfires in the lower Sonoran Desert. Crews will treat buffelgrass along 50 miles of roads and within 500 acres of the park in both the the Tucson Mountain and Rincon Mountain Districts.

No public closures are expected, according to a recent release, the treated areas are safe for people to enter as soon as the herbicide dries, usually within 15 minutes of application. The herbicide is mixed with a blue dye to mark what plants have been treated.  To learn more about the areas that will be sprayed during this process click here.

A helicopter will also be used, according to Park officials. This is done for areas where terrain is too steep or dangerous for ground crews. Aerial spraying will take place later in the summer.  Additional information will be released closer to the aerial spraying time, such as locations, dates, and any potential closures.

Treatment plans were approved for use in an environmental assessment, which can be viewed by clicking here.

Management of buffelgrass continues to be successful across Arizona, with the Saguaro National Park as the lead agency in the Southern Arizona Resilient Landscape Collaborative, funding is provided by the Department of the Interior.  Partners in the collaborative include the Catalina District of the Coronado National Forest, Buenos Aires Wildlife Refuge, and the Ironwood Forest National Monument.

Copyright 2016 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.