Free Admission to S. AZ Parks Saturday

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Saguaro National Park, Tucson Arizona (Photo by Travel USA)

By CECELIA MARSHALL for Arizona Public Media (NPR)

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National Public Lands Day is Saturday and parks are offering free entrance and asking volunteers to help clean up.

Ironwood Forest National Monument is expecting a record number of Tucson organizations to volunteer to clean up national parks and forests this year.

Coronado National Forest will be hosting three volunteer projects. At Brown Canyon Ranch volunteers will replace barbed wire fencing from 8 a.m. to noon.

On Mt. Lemmon, participants will remove litter from trails and restore overused campsites at Bigelow Bear Wallow beginning at 9 a.m.

At both Sabino Canyon and Saguaro National Park, volunteers will be eliminating the invasive species bufflegrass and fountain-head.

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Sunset over Sabino Canyon National Park, Tucson Arizona (Photo by Megan McCormick)

Those are non-native invasive African species that threaten the entire Sonoran Desert and ecosystems. Bufflegrass is a dense, fast growing grass, which outcompetes with native plants for water, nutrients and space. They are also fire-prone and burn hotter and faster than native vegetation.

“Bufflegrass is an invasive species, its not native to this area and it causes a variety of problems. To our native plants and animals and is a significant threat to our beautiful Sonoran Desert,” said Lahsha Brown, Executive Director of Friends of Ironwood Forest.

Fees for the Coronado National Forest Park entrance will also be waived for the day to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.

Volunteers should bring plenty of water, hats, sunscreen, and outdoor work clothes and shoes.
More information about the activities for National Public Lands Day is available at publiclandsday.org.

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