Blame it on the huge rainfall Arizona received this past winter, or blame it on environmental degradation, or blame it on the invasive weeds. Any way you look at it, the East Valley Tribune is reporting that last month Arizona had the second largest wildfire in its history. The immediate causes were hot, dry weather and an unusually large crop of cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), a non-native species that grows in wide swarths and burns hotter and faster than native Sonoran Desert grasses. Over in Utah, KSL TV is reporting that cheatgrass is being blamed for fires that are endangering the desert tortoise (Gopherus agassizii), an already threatened species.
Thanks to D. Patterson for pointing out the wildfire crisis.