The Bush fire is currently the largest wildfire in the US, growing in six days to almost 115,000 acres. It started on Saturday (6/13/2020) when a car caught on fire along Highway 87, a popular weekend travel route through the Tonto National Forest.

Sonoran Desert plants and animals are not adapted to fires, and many do not survive.  Although not the only factor, non-native plants are a major source of fuel for desert fires. They recover quickly after fire, providing further fuel for future flames.

At the Conservancy, we are actively surveying, removing and monitoring non-native plants. We work to control these species in the Preserve and throughout the region, partnering with groups such as Friends of Tonto National Forest, Maricopa County Regional Parks and Recreation, and the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance.

Through the regional Desert Defenders program, we help teach citizen scientists to survey and remove non-native plants across the Valley. Additionally, we are working to restore damaged areas by studying native seeding techniques and experimenting with soil crust restoration.

The Bush fire, along with the other major wildfires raging in Arizona right now, are a wake-up call and reminder that we must address non-native plant species and actively work to restore our beautiful Sonoran Desert to preserve it for generations to come.