Cheatgrass – Why its bad – What we are doing about it.


Cheatgrass is a highly flammable grass that has been found on the mountain after the Aspen Fire and is of concern because it would significantly compromise our ability to keep fires under control in Summerhaven.  In Utah, cheatgrass has extended the fire season.  It creates an extensive seedbed that can survive fire and repopulate quickly before native plants can become re-established. Because of its short life cycle, cheatgrass becomes dry fuel for fires by early summer, making many areas easy targets for hotter, faster-moving fires that burn with greater intensity.

Cheatgrass Grant from Arizona State Forestry Division – 2014

The grant was for $37,000 to use Department of Corrections crews to spray and pull cheatgrass in Summerhaven for two years.  The goal is to remove most of it so that in subsequent years it will be easy to keep it in check.  We bought a 55 gal. sprayer with a 300′ hose and 10 more backpack sprayers.  The Mt. Lemmon Women’s Club will helped with mailing information to the community.  Here is a copy of the grant proposal and the project plan and budget. (pdf)  Here are the highlights of the grant (pdf)

Now that the grant is over, we continue with treatment and pulling during cheatgrass season.  Make sure as a property owner that you are monitoring your property and pulling and/or spraying when you see cheatgrass.  The season is generally from April through July.

We appreciate reports to the community of cheatgrass sightings (see form below) and will continue to ask for volunteers to pull and spray during the season.


The Ecological Restoration Institute at NAU has published a very good overview of cheatgrass and the reasons why we are so concerned about it on the mountain.  To view the pdf file of this publication (click here)


This picture shows a characteristic cheatgrass plant that is just turning purple. It should be pulled or sprayed before this point. If it is mostly purple it cannot be sprayed.

Distinguishing Characteristics of Cheatgrass and Control Measures

 6 – 12” high“Nodding” seed head (bends over)Mostly stems and seeds, few leavesTurns purple when mature Spray with chemicals only when green.Pull before the seeds dry and disperse.Pull gently; the plants usually come out easily.Immediately put plants in plastic bag and seal before disposal.

Please Report Cheatgrass —–>
It is very important that everyone do their part to eliminate the fire threat cheatgrass poses to our community.  You can help by removing it when you see it, especially if it is on your property.

If you do remove it, please send us a email so we can track our progress.

If you see it on someone else’s property and are not comfortable treating it, send us an email on where you found it and we will work to get something done about it.

In the comments section in the form, please put the property address (or cross streets or other location information), about how much cheatgrass there is and what color it is.  If you pulled it or sprayed it, please indicate that too.

And you can use the report to ask questions.


Author: matthew