A 160-acre prescribed burn is planned this Wednesday on city of Tucson land in Avra Valley, according to a release from Saguaro National Park.
The burn is a joint project among Saguaro National Park, Tucson Water and the University of Arizona.
The park is responsible for planning and conducting the burn. UA researchers are documenting buffelgrass fuel loading and fire behavior.
The fast-growing — and fast-burning — grass has managed to overtake native plants in many parts of the state.
Tucson Water is preparing fuel breaks and providing substantial support.
Several local fire agencies will be assisting during the burn, the release said.
The National Park Service is conducting this prescribed burn to learn more about how firefighters can safely control extremely hot, fast-moving fires fueled by buffelgrass, an invasive species.
The project will also help land managers and property owners learn how to prevent or mitigate damage from buffelgrass fires.
The area being burned is part of a comprehensive research program being conducted by the University of Arizona and Tucson Water “to determine the most effective and efficient methods for eliminating buffelgrass,” the release continued.
Buffelgrass is a perennial noxious weed invading the Sonoran Desert.
“It is crowding out native species and fueling larger, more frequent wildfires that harm desert plants and animals and threaten human lives and property,” the release said.
Availability of fire crews and weather will dictate the precise timing of the fire.
“The burn may be postponed if conditions are unfavorable,” the release said.
A staging area is set along Reservation Road approximately 1.5 miles south of Manville Road.
Tucson Water’s Avra Valley property primarily consists of retired farmland purchased to acquire the associated water rights.
Tucson Water manages the property with the intent to return the land to native vegetation.
Saguaro National Park, the city of Tucson, and numerous other entities are engaged in an ongoing cooperative effort to reduce buffelgrass in Southern Arizona.
For a list of upcoming community buffelgrass pulling projects and to learn how to identify and remove buffelgrass, go online to http://www.buffelgrass.org.