Fire Starter: Invasive Grasses Promote Wildfires
Pictured above is UMass Amherst researcher Emily Fusco examining a burned hillside of buffelgrass in Arizona. In a first national-scale analysis, ecologists at UMass Amherst, with colleagues from the University of Colorado-Boulder, report that across the country, invasive grasses can increase fires. One species, invasive cheatgrass, has a long reputation as a firestarter, making wildfires worse and more common. It is now clear that this effect is much more pervasive than a single species. The new analysis finds at least seven other non-native grasses can increase wildfire risk, some doubling or tripling the likelihood of fires in grass-invaded areas. Read more.