Spartina angelica (English cordgrass) is an introduced, aggressive, aquatic grass that invades mudflats, beaches, eelgrass meadows, algae beds and salt marshes.
The plant takes over to form monotypic “Spartina meadows” resulting in loss of important habitat for fish and wildlife. The large root masses of Spartina trap sediment, raising the elevation and thus changing the entire ecosystem.
Spartina angelica was introduced in Puget Sound in 1961 for dyke and shoreline stabilization, oyster packing material and cattle fodder but quickly spread outside its intended usage area. In Washington state, there has been extensive conversion of native habitat to a monoculture of Spartina resulting in millions of dollars spent on control.
Spartina angelica was first discovered in Boundary Bay and Roberts Bank in 2003 by Gary Williams during intertidal marsh surveys conducted for the Vancouver Port Authority. In 2004, a multi-agency partnership was formed to develop a Spartina removal plan and promote public awareness of the problem. The “Early Detection, Rapid Response” technique was employed by the B.C. Spartina Working Group to control the spread. Volunteers began to manually dig up plants and clip seed heads and an excavator was used to remove large clones and bury them.
Areas of Spartina infestation continue to be monitored and mapped and removal efforts and public education by groups such as Friends of Semiahmoo Bay continue to be key in controlling the spread of the plant.
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