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9 August 2018

Alien grass is making California wildfires three times as frequent

Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, this week. Non-native grasses might be making it worse
Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch Fire, part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, this week. Non-native grasses might be making it worse

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty

Alien grasses are making wildfires in the US up to twice as large and three times as frequent, the first nationwide study of their impact has found.

One species, cheatgrass, is now widespread in California and was involved in last year’s Thomas Fire, the largest recorded in the state until eclipsed by the ongoing Mendocino fire raging since early this week.

Like cheatgrass — already documented …

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