Tucson is in a battle with invasive, destructive buffelgrass — and you can join the fight on Saturday.

Volunteers are needed for a Beat Back Buffelgrass event aimed at slowing the spread of the non-native species, which poses a severe fire hazard and a deadly threat to native vegetation.

Organizers of the event will guide volunteers in removing buffelgrass at 20 sites around Tucson.

DESTRUCTIVE INVADER

“Buffelgrass in wild places can destroy the desert as we know it,” said Lindy Brigham, executive director of the Southern Arizona Buffelgrass Coordination Center. “It outcompetes native vegetation. When that vegetation is lost, it’s a loss of habitat and food for native animals.

“And in urban areas, buffelgrass poses an extreme fire hazard” because it ignites easily and burns very rapidly, Brigham said.

She said the African grass was brought to Texas in the 1930s as a food source for livestock and that it was later introduced in Arizona for erosion control. Since then, the grass has spread rapidly, taking over terrain once occupied by native plants.

JOIN THE BATTLE

Brigham said volunteers can register online — www.buffelgrass.org — and choose one of 20 sites where they will “learn a bit about buffelgrass and how to pull it up — and then start working.”

Tools such as shovels, digging bars and pick axes will be available at most work sites, Brigham said. Work will begin at about 8 a.m. and continue until 11 a.m. or noon.

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Volunteers are asked to wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt and shoes with covered toes.

“No flip-flops,” Brigham said. “And a sun hat is recommended.”

AFTER PARTY

Buffelgrass battlers are invited to attend an “after party” from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Borderlands Brewing Co., 119 E. Toole Ave.

The event will include live music and raffles.

Contact reporter Doug Kreutz at dkreutz@tucson.com or at 573-4192. On Twitter: @DouglasKreutz