In southern Arizona, the rapid spread of the invasive plant known as buffelgrass and the slow conversion of the previously flameproof desert to flammable grassland as buffelgrass invades more areas has become the region's most pressing environmental issue (see video at http://www.snr.arizona.edu/project/buffelgrass).
Without coordinated and decisive regional action, the Tucson region will soon face the threat of frequent and extensive fires, threats to conservation areas and initiatives, and significant economic impacts, from reduced property values to lost tourist revenues.
Both the public and private sectors are quickly ramping up to meet the buffelgrass challenge. The following significant events reflect the increasing concern regarding buffelgrass:
- In 2005, Arizona Statute R3-4-244 approved listing of buffelgrass as a Regulated and Restricted Noxious Weed.
- Pima County Board of Supervisors adopted Resolution No. 2005-165 to manage buffelgrass and other invasive species. Strict ordinances are now being drafted and vetted by municipal and county governments to help eliminate buffelgrass and other invasive species on private property and utility and road right-of-ways.
- A Buffelgrass Summit was held on February 9, 2007 to mobilize government agencies and public officials.
- On March 1, 2008, PAG organized the first region-wide volunteer effort to conduct buffelgrass removal on a single day.
- In 2008, the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Strategic Plan was completed and identified five key strategies that provide the framework for successfully managing buffelgrass infestations within the region.
- In 2008, the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center (SABCC), a 501 c 3 organization, was formed.
- On July 10, 2008, a Buffelgrass Policy Forum was held to initiate an aggressive outreach effort to inform and engage the general public and motivate business leaders.
- On February 7, 2009, PAG organized the second annual volunteer effort to remove buffelgrass.
For more information about buffelgrass, visit www.buffelgrass.org