Spartina treatment season starts June 1
OLYMPIA — This year's treatment season for Spartina, an aggressive noxious weed, starts June 1 and will continue through November. Survey and eradication efforts will take place in multiple areas, including Grays Harbor, Hood Canal, Willapa Bay, Puget Sound, the north and west sides of the Olympic Peninsula and at the mouth of the Columbia River.
Spartina, commonly known as cordgrass, can disrupt the ecosystems of native saltwater estuaries. If left unchecked, Spartina outcompetes native vegetation and converts ecologically healthy mudflats and estuaries into unproductive Spartina meadows. As a result, important habitat for salmon, forage fish, invertebrates, shorebirds and waterfowl, is lost, the threat of flooding is increased, and the state's shellfish industry is negatively impacted.
An encouraging development in 2018 was the complete eradication of Spartina from four new sites. That brings the total number of previously infested sites now declared eradicated to 61, or 30% of the 200 Spartina sites currently tracked by the program. The Spartina eradication effort has been effective with the state's infestation reduced from a high of more than 9,000 solid acres in 2003 to an aggregate of about 3.4 acres spread throughout the remaining 139 infested sites.
Since 1995, WSDA has served as the lead state agency for Spartina eradication, facilitating the cooperation of local, state, federal and tribal governments; universities; interested groups; and private landowners. These cooperators last year located and treated over 9,500 individual Spartina occurrences.
This year, project partners expect to survey more than 60,000 acres of saltwater estuaries and 750 miles of shoreline in 12 counties. WSDA and its partners dig out small infestations by hand and treat larger sites with herbicides.
"Our goal is to eradicate Washington's remaining Spartina infestations, protecting important habitat for salmon, waterfowl and shellfish," said Jim Marra, manager of WSDA's Pest Program. "This effort has restored many of the state's most productive estuary and shoreline habitats. This summer the cooperators continue the challenging work of finding and removing the thousands of Spartina plants remaining in the Puget Sound and along Washington's coast."