Study: Alien grasses are making more frequent US wildfires

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new study finds that for much of the United States, invasive grass species are making wildfires more frequent, especially in fire-prone California.

Study co-author Bethany Bradley of the University of Massachusetts says in a way a dozen non-native grass species act like little arsonists, catching fire because they get dried out so easily.

The nationwide study links fire frequency, but not size, to invading grasses. It finds that wherever the common Mediterranean grass invades, including California’s southern desert, fires flare up three times more often.

And Bradley says cheatgrass, which covers about one-third of the Intermountain West, is a big-time fire promoter.

Another fire expert calls California ground zero for invasive grasses.

The study is in Monday’s journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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