What’s at stake?

Sabino Creek is a Sonoran Desert oasis. More than 80 percent of local native wildlife species depend on it at some stage of their lifecycle.

Sabino Canyon supports a wide variety of wildlife because it is a botanically diverse natural landscape providing food, shelter and reproductive opportunities wildlife needs to thrive. However, the recreation area is subject to continual ecological disturbance by intensive human use and natural flooding, both of which encourage invasive plants. 

Keeping the wildlife habitat healthy requires controlling invasive plants that crowd out natives. Sabino's Problem with Invasive Plants describes this dynamic relationship of invasive versus native plants in Sabino Canyon. Sabino Canyon Volunteer Naturalists promote conservation through public interpretation about invasive species and we also help identify and remove them. 

Sabino Stewards are actively identifying and removing a dozen species of perennial and annual invasive plants. Join Sabino Stewards!


“Buffelgrass is an ecological emergency…”

 - Sharon Biedenbender, former Ecologist/Invasive Species Coordinator, Coronado National Forest

Biological Threat

• Highly invasive • Converts botanically diverse native landscape to exotic monoculture • Destroys wildlife habitat • Incompatible with Sonoran Desert character, scenic quality, recreational experience 

Public Safety Threat

• Burns hot enough to melt metal • Creates massive fire load quickly • Destroys Sonoran Desert plants, which are not adopted to fire • Regrows first after fire, suppressing other plants • Carries fire into riparian and upland forests

Full presentation by Sharon Biedenbender: Buffelgrass, An Ecological Emergency.

Buffelgrass Videos

University of Arizona Buffelgrass Studies

Documents the transformation of rich Sonoran Desert upland habitat of 15-20 plant species into an impoverished landscape containing only 2-5 species. The longer Buffelgrass remains on a site, the more species richness and diversity decline. Full study Here.

Documents the rate at which Catalina Mountains Buffelgrass is spreading. Doubles in acreage every 2.26-7.04 years. Full study Here.


Giant Reed: A Sabino Success Story

Sonoran Desert plants have returned in great profusion to Sabino Creek in places that were once overrun by 25-ft. high thickets of the invasive Giant Reed. From 2008-2010 hundreds of people volunteered for the difficult work of removing the non-native cane. Here's a 7-minute video update on Sabino's recovery.


Giant Reed removal videos

Three excellent videos about the Arundo Removal Project in Sabino Canyon

Arizona Illustrated, PBS

Salpointe High School

Tucson Audubon