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Still Waters

Wildfires fanned by invasive grass species

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New research indicates that a species of invasive grass is making wildfires in the western US larger, hotter and more frequent.

Scientists say that a variety called cheatgrass dries out and burns more rapidly than other vegetation.

They believe it has fuelled almost 80% of the largest fires in the west over the last 10 years.

Researchers are looking at a range of solutions including using a fungus to attack the grass seed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk...onment-20612161

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Simple solution: cheatgrass is an annual. Kill it before it goes to seed and you've broken its life cycle. Ranchers control it by putting cattle and horses on the range when the cheatgrass is still green and "graze the H out of it." A lawnmower works, too.

One problem, though: it's a C4 grass (aka "warm-season grass"). It does real well in drought conditions, such as those now occurring in most of the US southwest. As the climate shifts to dryer conditions, cheatgrass is going to think it died and went to heaven.

Doug

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