Special to The Explorer

In early May, a Tucson resident received the Bureau of Land Management's "Making a Difference" National Volunteer Award for his public service contributions.

John Scheuring and the Friends of the Ironwood Forest are "a prime example of assisting the BLM in taking on challenges for the benefit of the unique Sonoran Desert and this nation's public lands," a release said.

Invasive buffelgrass is a threat to the Ironwood Forest National Monument near Marana. Eradication of the species is "the No. 1 priority for the monument," the release said. "However, this challenge would have been difficult beyond measure to accomplish without significant help from outside organizations and volunteers."

Scheuring and the Friends of the Ironwood Forest also recognized the need and initiated the Save the Watermans project, an area rich in rare and unique vegetative species. Scheuring organized volunteers from various communities around the monument to quickly and repeatedly remove buffelgrass from the monument through a concentrated and orchestrated group of intensive projects, or "pulls."

To date, 14 different pulls have been completed. Results of the Save the Watermans project "have been beyond everyone's initial expectations," the release continued. "Buffelgrass has been nearly completely eradicated from the Waterman Mountains, with ongoing projects targeted at the remaining small patches."

Scheuring and BLM are now planning a new "Save the Silverbells" campaign, targeting buffelgrass in the nearby Silverbell Mountains on the Ironwood Forest National Monument.


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