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Mitigating invasive species

Invasive plants and animals and create increased fire risk. The Parsons Field Institute is working to control key problematic species both in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve and the region with the help of citizen science volunteers like you!


We want to help land managers understand and use the best methods to remove invasive plant species.

Our science team is currently working on removal experiments to find the best treatment methods for controlling two invasive grass species, buffelgrass and fountain grass, which are both recognized by the State of Arizona and Tonto National Forest as noxious weeds.

Identifying where these grasses occur and the best removal techniques are essential to the future of our beautiful desert. Our experiments are designed to find the best method to control each of these species, while also taking into consideration the costs, time requirements and the effects on the native plants in the area.

On the ground action in the McDowell Sonoran Preserve

Since invasive plant species are such a major threat to the Sonoran Desert, it’s important that we take action now.

Our science team includes dedicated staff and citizen science volunteers who work outside in the Preserve to control invasive plant species. The more people we can get involved in stewardship, the better. You can learn how to become a volunteer and join us.

Each year we map where invasive plants are with an app designed to help us keep track of all of our field work on this project. We use our map to make a plan to remove, monitor and re-treat key species that threaten the Sonoran Desert.

Beyond the Preserve

Our work extends beyond the McDowell Sonoran Preserve. We take leadership in regional programs to help control invasive plant species. By working with other dedicated conservation organizations and land managers, we can amplify our impacts and make a difference to protect the Sonoran Desert across the Valley.

Learn about the major regional efforts we are involved in and find out how you can help!

Desert Defenders Program is a community science project to map and remove invasive species across the Valley. You can join in the mapping efforts by attending a workshop and mapping invasive species. Learn more on the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance webpage and check out our current map.

We work with the Central Arizona Conservation Alliance to implement the Regional Open Space Strategy, which is a plan to help Maricopa County take action to protect the desert.

As part of this work, we are leading a regional working group to increase collaboration in the region on invasive plant species issues. We put together this Invasive Species Clearinghouse as a central location to find resources to better manage invasive plants.


Parsons May, 2021 Update (Video)
Annual Report (2020)

McDowell Sonoran Conservancy Contact
Mary Fastiggi | 480.998.7971 x 114 |
15300 North 90th Street, Suite 400, Scottsdale, Arizona, 85260 | 480.998.7971

Protect Your Sonoran Desert

The Power to Sustain the Sonoran Desert for Future Generations is Yours