Wash. Ag department continues fight against invasive Spartina
Spartina alterniflora - also known as smooth cordgrass - is a noxious weed native to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of North America. Since the plant is non-native to Washington, it can destroy fish habitat and be a nuisance for waterfowl and other marine life, according to the Washington Noxious Weed Control Board.
COURTESY PHOTO/WASHINGTON NOXIOUS WEED CONTROL BOARD
Staff Report | June 30, 2023 5:43 PM
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Agriculture announced June 24 that this year’s treatment season for Spartina, an aggressive invasive weed, began June 1 and will continue through November.
The WSDA’s Spartina Program Coordinator expressed the importance of eradicating Spartina in the media release.
“Our goal is to eradicate Washington’s remaining Spartina infestations, protecting important habitats for salmon, waterfowl and shellfish. The Spartina Eradication Program protects our state’s most productive estuaries and shoreline habitats. This year, with our project cooperators, we will continue the challenging work of finding and removing the thousands of Spartina plants that remain in the Puget Sound and along Washington’s coast.”
According to the announcement, survey and eradication efforts, led by the WSDA, will take place in multiple areas across the state, including Grays Harbor, Hood Canal, Willapa Bay, Puget Sound, the north and west sides of the Olympic Peninsula and near the mouth of the Columbia River.
Spartina, commonly known as cordgrass, can disrupt the ecosystems of native saltwater estuaries, stated the news release. If left unchecked, Spartina outcompetes native vegetation and converts ecologically healthy mudflats and estuaries into solid Spartina meadows, which harm habitats for native species, increase the threat of flooding and negatively impact the state’s shellfish industry.
According to the WSDA’s release, the Spartina eradication effort has been highly effective, reducing infestations from a high of more than 9,000 solid acres in 2003 to just over two total acres in 2022. However, the release states that significant work remains to be done. The two remaining acres are spread over 125 sites, meaning 62% of Washington’s sites are not yet fully eradicated.
Visit agr.wa.gov to for more information on Spartina control efforts.