Alien plants fuel flames - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Alien plants fuel flames

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Posted: Wednesday, July 13, 2005 10:14 pm | Updated: 9:18 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Well-meaning humans allowed Arizona’s evergreen forests to grow so thickly that they became ripe for huge wildfires. Wildfires in our deserts are being assigned an equally human cause: non-native plants Arizonans brought with them from elsewhere.

This warning for Scottsdale residents came at Saturday’s marking of 10 years since 1995’s Rio Fire, which scorched 23,000 acres in and around the McDowell Mountains.

In Sunday’s Tribune, U.S. Geological Survey research ecologist Cecil R. Schwalbe cited red brome grass, which dries quickly and helped fuel flames in the current Cave Creek Complex fire.

As much as our ingenuity has made the desert livable, some the results of what has been called “Midwesternization” of the landscape have been destructive to it rather than an improvement. That’s something to keep in mind as Arizona’s population continues to occupy more and more desert land.

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