PORTLAND - The public television program Oregon Field Guide will be featuring efforts to eradicate spartina grass, "which if left to proliferate, could undo everything that is good about the bay," according to a press release about the program, which airs on the stations of Oregon Public Broadcasting on Thursday, Feb. 24, at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m.
Spartina grass was brought from the East Coast about a century ago, most likely as packing material for cargo in ships. The grass lay dormant for years, but started to spread in recent decades.
Spartina grows four to six feet in height and chokes out the mud flats where oysters bed and the shoreline where birds come to feed. In three years, there's been a 485 percent increase in the area covered by the grass and a 50 percent drop in the number of shorebirds in the area.
Field Guide talks with the National Wildlife Refuge project manager who is dedicated to completely eradicating spartina. (See related story on Page 1.) New herbicides that attack the grass, as well as protection of adjacent forests and creation of new wetlands in reclaimed pasture land, is helping keep the bay healthy.
"It will take time and money, but the folks around here believe they can succeed in stopping this threat to Willapa Bay wildlife and their livelihoods," according to the press release.
In its 16th season, Oregon Field Guide is a source of information about outdoor recreation, ecological issues, natural resources and travel destinations.