Goal for These Desert Troops? Bag the Buffelgrass

By Bowers, Faye | The Christian Science Monitor, May 31, 2007 | Go to article overview

Goal for These Desert Troops? Bag the Buffelgrass


Bowers, Faye, The Christian Science Monitor


Just after sunrise on the second Saturday of each month, Claudia Bloom and 20 friends scale the slopes of Piestewa Peak in central Phoenix - but not just for an invigorating hike or the splendid vistas. This small army has come to wage war, wielding pickaxes and crowbars. Their enemy? Clump after clump after clump of buffelgrass.

The weed is so invasive that it threatens the ecology of the Sonoran Desert, choking out native plants, including the iconic saguaro cactus.

Volunteer groups like Ms. Bloom's - part of the recently formed Phoenix Weedwackers - have dedicated thousands of hours to hacking and prying buffelgrass out of the rock-hard Arizona earth. State agencies are now taking up arms, too, spraying roadsides to kill it.

But buffelgrass is one tenacious species, propagating so often that seven plants seem to spring up for every one yanked out and packed off, ignominiously, in a 30-gallon trash bag.

"It's probably impossible to completely eradicate now," says Ed Northam, a weed biologist and invasive-plants manager for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension. The best these volunteer groups can do, he says, is develop an "approach to figure out which areas we want to protect and start developing buffer zones."

That's not to say no ground has been won.

Some 120 miles south of Phoenix near Tucson, the Sonoran Desert Weedwackers for seven years have spent a morning a month clearing buffelgrass from the slopes of the 25,000-acre Tucson Mountain Park. Other informal groups have taken on smaller projects, as did the volunteer squad that recently cleared the roadsides of Galvin Parkway in Phoenix's Papago Park, home of the Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo.

A native of South Africa's savannahs, buffelgrass was introduced in the United States in the 1940s, after the hard lessons of the Dust Bowl. It seemed to be the answer to government officials' desperate search for a plant that would hold the soil and provide forage for cattle.

After testing and further development in Texas, its seeds were sold to area ranchers. Since then, it has marched across northern Mexico and southern Arizona and is now invading the central part of the state.

Buffelgrass thrives with very little water and germinates easily and often, producing seed heads three or four times a year, experts say. It began its wild trek through Arizona on the wind, taking root on roadsides, then spreading up surrounding hillsides. It starts in tiny low clumps and grows into larger ones that can reach three to four feet wide.

"It competes with and eventually overtakes wildflowers," says Raul Puente, curator of living collections at the Desert Botanical Garden here. "Its root system is thicker and more developed than [those of] wild plants, so it eventually chokes out all the native plants."

Perhaps more worrisome is that buffelgrass is in cahoots with wildfire. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Goal for These Desert Troops? Bag the Buffelgrass
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.