Today we have more news on the invasive species front. Invasive species are symptomatic of an environment under stress and in decline. Cenchrus ciliaris, formerly known as Pennisetum ciliare (L.), also known as Buffelgrass, arrived from Texas in the middle of the last century, introduced with similar ideas in mind as kudzu – soil stabilization. And like kudzu, it could be as feedstock for farm animals, a perfect utilitarian combination. And nest of all it seemed to grow well in Texas with little need for human intervention. The success of the introduced invasive species was overwhelming; today it is threatening to eliminate the Sonoran Desert ecosystem.
“Buffelgrass is considered a particularly serious threat to the saguaro cactus, the iconic plant of the Sonoran Desert Ecoregion, and is extremely detrimental to desert tortoise and mule deer habitat.” According to the Buffelgrass Information Center “Buffelgrass not only impacts native ecosystems and conservation efforts, it also poses a serious threat to life, property, tourism and the regional economy. Ecotourism is a cornerstone of the economy of southern Arizona and wildfire in the Sonoran Desert has the potential to disrupt recreational activities and degrade viewscapes. This scenic native desert area attracts millions of tourists every year who contribute billions of dollars to the regional economy; tourism accounts for nearly 40,000 tourism-related jobs, about 12% of total wages in Pima County. Areas most at-risk to buffelgrass invasion are also highly prized real estate where multi million dollar homes are nestled among the saguaros and paloverde trees of the mountain foothills.”
News sources not report that it may be too late for the park, and as I have written about before, somehow the damage from invasive species seems to elude policy makers and the public. We continue to pay after the damage is done and after we have loss the ecosystem service provider. We have decided to send the fire engine and EMV after the house has burned down and the patient died.
“Buffelgrass, native to Africa, was introduced in Texas in the 1940s as a soil stabilizer and food for livestock, but it quickly ran wild across the Sonoran, turning up in Saguaro National Park in 1991. It has since been declared a noxious weed by Arizona regulators and was banned from import in 2005. But it may be too late for the park, where buffelgrass-infested areas have doubled in size every two years and will cover 60 percent of the park's land by 2018,
according to NPS projections. As with other invasive infestations, the scope and magnitude of the buffelgrass problem exceeds federal resources to combat it. But in Saguaro, rangers are
battling back with an approach that could become part of a new national invasives policy: Instead of trying to contain buffelgrass across the entire park, they are concentrating on areas believed to be the most biologically valuable.” Patrick Reis, E&E reporter “Invasive species: Overwhelmed by buffelgrass in Ariz., Park Service picks its battles” -- 03/05/2009 -- www.eenews.net