Post-Disturbance Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment
Saguaro National Park is concerned about the increased threat of large scale wildfire caused by invasive plants, fire suppression, and a climate favoring warmer and drier conditions. Thus, the park is initiating an Environmental Assessment (EA) to proactively develop strategies for restoring impacted sites and to evaluate the environmental impacts of post-disturbance restoration treatments. The project area includes all federally held lands within the legislative boundary of Saguaro National Park.
The park currently has an extensive amount of invasive non-native perennial grasses throughout its desert community. These grasses are currently disrupting ecosystem processes by decreasing native plant diversity and cover, which in turn impacts wildlife habitat and forage. The grasses invade the interspaces between native plants, and ultimately displace them, forming a continuous source of fuel for wildfires. At higher elevations, woody biomass has accumulated due to lack of fire in the pine forest community. Anthropogenic disturbances such as off-road vehicle use, unauthorized trails and campsites, abandoned roads and other disruptive land uses can occur throughout the park.
In response to these potentially large-scale disturbances, the park proposes to use appropriate restoration strategies and treatments to restore native ecosystems and to protect human health and property. Depending on the type, extent, and location of the disturbance, ecological restoration strategies would include removing the disturbance, and could be passive (fencing and allowing natural reclamation); facilitated (seeding and/or planting with on-site materials); or active (soil preparation, mulching, and our seeding/planting with off-site materials). Restoration treatments could be implemented using manual labor and mechanized ground-based and/or aerial equipment and tools including aerial application of herbicides.
Planning and Compliance Coordinator
Saguaro National Park
3693 S. Old Spanish Trail
Tucson, AZ 85730