SABCC Transition sticky icon

Buffelgrass fight enters new stage in Southern Arizona with stronger focus on long-term efforts


Southern Arizona is entering a significant new stage in the fight against buffelgrass, as the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center (SABCC) hands over its responsibilities to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Pima Association of Governments and Sky Island Alliance; who are strongly positioned to wage the battle over the long-term.

SABCC was established in 2008 with four main goals:

  • Raise public awareness about rapid buffelgrass invasion and rising threats to public safety and protected areas in the Sonoran Desert from increasing fire risk
  • Map and assess the scope of the threat
  • Jumpstart control efforts and help evaluate their success
  • Coordinate efforts across multiple and varied jurisdictions

All four goals have been met in the past eight productive years. The time has come, however, to institutionalize the fight against buffelgrass and entrust and divide SABCC’s responsibilities among local organizations with longer standing and more stable revenue streams. Because it has been well-run and efficiently operated, SABCC will pass on significant resources to help these organizations continue the effort.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum(ASDM) will assume SABCC’s primary responsibilities.

  • ASDM will become the source of scientific information about buffelgrass and methods for controlling it
  • ASDM will work with Saguaro National Park to implement the National Park Service Resilient Landscapes grant
  • ASDM will maintain the buffelgrass website –
  • ASDM will assume the regional mapping responsibilities
  • ASDM will coordinate the Buffelgrass Working Group, which facilitates coordination among all the local jurisdictions as well as the state and national agencies involved in controlling buffelgrass

Kim Franklin, the Conservation Biologist for the ASDM, has extensive experience with buffelgrass and is leading the museum’s effort for the community. Kim can be reached at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson, AZ 85743, tele: 520-883-3008, email:

“SABCC has achieved what it set out to do 8 years ago, jumpstarting awareness and coordination of the battle to control buffelgrass. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is happy to work with PAG, Sky Island Alliance and the Buffelgrass Working Group to ensure that these efforts continue,” said Debra Colodner, Director, Conservation Education and Science ASDM.

The Pima Association of Governments will assume leadership for Beat Back Buffelgrass Day, a key event in raising public awareness of the buffelgrass threat. PAG’s role is significant: PAG started Beat Back Buffelgrass Day in 2007, subsequently turned it over to SABCC, and is now pleased to resume this activity. Contact information for BBBD is now Cherie Campbell, Deputy Director tele: 520-495-1418, email:

And the Sky Island Alliance will assume direction of the international effort with Mexico against invasive species. Contact information for the project is Louise Misztal, Executive Director, Sky Island Alliance tele: 520-624-7080 ext. 19, email:

The transition from SABCC to the other organizations will occur officially on June 30.

“We are very pleased that these organizations have stepped up to take responsibility for on-going buffelgrass control,” said Sarah Smallhouse, one of the founders of SABCC and its board chair throughout its eight years. “The Desert Museum is world-renowned and widely respected for its science and advocacy for the Sonoran Desert. PAG is the region’s key metropolitan planning organization. And the Sky Island Alliance is an engaged and well-regarded environmental nonprofit that spans the international border in its scope. The fight against buffelgrass could not be entrusted to better hands.”

SABCC was created in 2008 after two summit meetings of representatives from state and federal agencies, county and municipal governments, academia, private conservation organizations, business leaders, and concerned citizens called for the creation of an agency to coordinate the fight against buffelgrass

In its eight years SABCC has won accolades for its community-based approach to fighting buffelgrass. It also has been instrumental in bringing approximately $5 million worth of grants to Southern Arizona. SABCC’s accomplishments include:

  • Honored by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s coveted “2011 Partners in Conservation Awards,” presented to SABCC as one of only 17 organizations nationwide to win the award. SABCC was recognized for its integrated approach to mitigating the impacts of buffelgrass in the Sonoran Desert.
  • Recognized by the Public Lands Foundation’s Landscape Stewardship Certificate of Appreciation in 2010 for SABCC’s bringing together a variety of partners to fight buffelgrass.
  • Played an integral role in securing a $3.4 million FEMA pre-disaster mitigation grant to control buffelgrass spread at Tucson International Airport and the Pima County Mission Complex, which houses the County Jail.
  • Managed cooperative agreements worth $600,000 with Saguaro National Park, the Ironwood Forest National Monument, and the U.S. Forest Service Southwest District.
  • Successfully campaigned to have the Arizona Department of Agriculture list buffelgrass as a noxious weed, a listing that means the plant cannot be sold in Arizona or brought into the state.
  • Worked with the U.S. Geological Survey’s Invasive Species Branch to create a decision support system for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
  • Recruited thousands of volunteers to pull buffelgrass at the annual Beat Back Buffelgrass Day.
  • Helped coordinate local Congressional Field Hearings on buffelgrass invasion in the Sonoran Desert. Congressman Raul Grijalva, chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, presided over that hearing, which helped bring national attention to the threat buffelgrass presents to the desert and the region’s economy.

Julio Betancourt, a senior scientist now stationed at USGS Headquarters in Reston, VA and a founding SABCC member, encourages Tucson, Pima County, and southern Arizona, “to keep mapping, assessing risks, and seeking solutions. Unaddressed, the buffelgrass problem will surely worsen. As it does, concerns will eventually shift from biodiversity to public safety, as we struggle to stem brushfires in both urban and natural areas.”

SABCC’s board of directors optimistically looks forward to the new direction and outcomes that will be achieved by creating new approaches to controlling buffelgrass in Southern Arizona.



Zacate Buffel video by Changemaker High School students

This Zacate Buffel video was created to inform Spanish speakers about the dangers of buffelgrass that is often just outside their yards. Changemaker High School students produced this project to detail how buffelgrass came to Arizona, what it looks like, and how to properly remove it. Funded in part by the Jane Goodall Roots and Shoots program and Donors Choose. Credits: Students: Larissa Diaz, Adilene Rivera, and Alejandra Lopez-Ortega. Teacher: Nicole Snook

Este video de zacate buffel se hace para informar a los hablantes de español sobre el peligro que esto es justo fuera de sus yardas. Le muestra la historia de por qué es zacate buffel en Arizona, cómo se ve y cómo eliminar correctamente y con seguridad zacate buffel de su alrededor. Este proyecto también fue echo por lideres estudiantiles de Changemaker High School.  Fue pagado por Jane Goodall Programa de Roots y Shoots y por Donors Choose. Creditos: estudiantes: Larissa Diaz, Adilene Rivera, y Alejandra Lopez-Ortega; Maestra Nicole Snook 


Beat Back Buffelgrass Day 2016 - Main Page


Thank you everyone who came out for Beat BackBuffelgrass Day this year!


We had a record number of sites -

thank you everyone who put one together!

And, we had a record number of people sign up on the website!


Here are the numbers

Here are our sponsors




Congratulations to Estelle Stern-Eilers

SABCC's 2016

Buffel Buster of the Year


Estelle's tireless and ongoing work with the Rillito Bend Neighborhood association and in Brandi Fenton Memorial Park is an inpiration to us all.  Congratulation Estelle, you deserve it.




January 21st, 2017 will be the 10th Annual

Beat Back Buffelgrass Day - save the date!

Buffelgrass Dead and Gone Tshirts

One of the many great things about Southern Arizona you can wear tshirts almost all year long and still be comfortable. Why not wear one of our tshirts? Be comfy, support our work, and help spread the message about buffelgrass!

Tshirts are free with a minimum donation of $15. Make your donation today through our Donate button. Or call 520-621-3024. Or send your donation to: SABCC, PO Box 40848, Tucson, AZ 85717  (Be sure to specify your size.)

Buffel Busters Activity Booklet and Identification Guide

Buffel Buster Activity Booklet Cover Page


Our Buffel Busters Activity Booklet and Identification Guide is here! This bilingual booklet is geared to 3rd and 4th Graders and tied to Arizona Department of Education Standards.

We're so excited to welcome this educational piece to our buffelgrass outreach team! Do you work with youth? Hard copy booklets are free to educators, email for more info. You can also download the booklet from the pdf below.

This booklet was produced with grant funding from Arizona State Forestry and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. (Not all prohibited basis apply to all programs.)

To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720- 5964 (voice and TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.”

New Buffelgrass Videos

Buffelgrass! The Epic from Daniel Bell on Vimeo

For subtitles in Spanish click on the "CC" and then click on "Español"

Para los subtítulos en Español haga clic en el "CC" y luego haga clic en "Español"


Welcome to the Buffelgrass Patch


Welcome to the Buffelgrass Patch from Daniel Bell on Vimeo.

Help Us Map Buffelgrass

We now have a mobile app to map buffelgrass!  In addition to mapping buffelgrass on our website, you can download our app.  (Instructions) Try it on your phone.


Windows   iPhone   Android


Buffelgrass Identification Guide

  • Buffelgrass Identification Pocket Guide (full PDF link)

  • High-quality, High-resolution pictures of buffelgrass at various life stages and various settings

  • Key characteristics for identifying buffelgrass

  • Hard copy is water-resistant and tear-resistant

  • PDF looks great on smart phones!

Buffelgrass Removal on TV

Buffelgrass on TV! Van Nguyen from the UA MPASA program volunteered with us for our recent Days of Caring Buffelgrass Removal Event in the Sunnyside Neighborhood. Van put together this short piece which aired on KVOA recently. There wasn't time to mention SABCC or Tucson Clean and Beautiful by name but we're still proud of it.

Thanks to Van and all our other hardworking volunteers!

Find Us on




The Center's mission is to provide a regional information center that emphasizes an integrated management approach to control buffelgrass (Pennisetum ciliare) in Southern Arizona.