Typical Sonoran landscape. Note the open spaces between the plant. This is normal. What is not normal is a scene where the open space is occupied by Buffelgrass (BG). This species was brought from Africa to be planted as a forage for live stock. It is highly flammable and feeds a fire once it starts, thus killing the other plants. Without the BG, a fire would not survive. In time, this could all become a grassland.
With two Saguaro Park employees to guide us, we head toward the steep slope on the right side of the above image. We have what are essentially pick axes to use to dislodge the grass clump, hopefully with an intact root ball. It ain't easy work, let me tell ya.
The park has tried aerial spraying but note the pock marks on the side of that center right Saguaro. That is caused by spraying so the park is studying the impact before using the technique again. Spot spraying using people carrying canisters works but is very slow. Or....
...you can bring out volunteers and manually remove the plant. We are given instructions about the proper technique, part of which is to use the tool and probe the grass clump for rattlers! This could be my lucky day.
More instructions and the yellow grass clumps at our feet is the BG in a dormant stage.
We begin to work at 9:00am. Not only do you dig out the BG from a rocky surface, all the clumps have to be carried and placed in piles. Someone tells me there is a cave at the base of that rock formation, above. Hmmm.....
.....I steadily work my way higher and now my co-workers are far below. What could cause me to go so far away? Why of course.....
....the cave. OK, not really a cave, more like an alcove but still kind of neat. Saw 4 deer nearby which is not common, asin Ohio. I work my way back down the slope and a break is taken. In the absence of friends with bikes at a gas station, my usual break routine, I do not linger long and continue the back breaking work.
Later, an active BG is pulled and examined. At 11:30am, we call it a day. My vast experience of pulling weeds from my Ohio garden came in handy, hah! Still, it is hard work, swing the tool, pry out rocks and pull an intact plant, repeat over and over.
On our walk out, we check out an Ocotillo plant. We enter a wash and.....
....find a giant, likely Ironwood, tree. Thing is huge. Well, with my one good deed done for the visit, it is back to cycling, group ride, Sunday.