Click here to register for Buffelgrass and Fountain Grass Free Zone projects.

Historically, the Sonoran Desert portion of the Tonto NF has been considered a low fire risk environment.  Lightning and other natural causes could ignite a fire, but the natural spacing of the native plants generally carried only low intensity fires and not for much distance.  Most plants native to the Sonoran Desert (including the iconic Saguaro) are not fire adapted, they do not recover from the effects of a fire.

Native Sonoran Desert

The Woodbury Fire is a tragic example of how the desert is changing.

A wet spring in 2019 encouraged plant growth. As a result, the non-native plants provided the fuels to carry the Woodbury fire over 126,000 acres, mostly in the Superstition Wilderness.  Saltcedar, brome grasses, sahara mustard, fountain grass and now buffelgrass and other non-native plants are rapidly expanding in the Tonto. These non-native plants out-compete the native plants and provide extra fuel for fires.

Join Friends of the Tonto as we work with Tonto NF and neighboring communities to educate the public, identify and map the non-native infestations, and remove the threat where possible.

Friends of the Tonto joined the McDowell Sonoran Conservancy to develop a mobile mapping app. Participate by downloading this free app to your mobile device, and attending a short training session. You will learn to identify some of the plants, and how the app functions.  To sign up for training email:

From October through April, Friends of the Tonto holds events to remove buffelgrass and fountain grass from an area near Siphon Draw and Lost Dutchman State P ark.  Watch here for the schedule and register below.