Suquamish Successfully Squelching Spartina

SUQUAMISH (July 9, 2008) – The Suquamish Tribe is confident it has removed most of the invasive spartina from the Doe-Keg-Wats estuary.

The invasive spartina grass, also known as cordgrass, has been causing problems in area since the mid-1990s. Doe-Keg-Wats is a 132-acre wetland area near Indianola that is a traditional ceremonial and harvesting site for the tribe. The tribe is focusing its efforts on an 1.5-acre tidal zone to determine what eradication efforts will work best.

“The spartina root system vigorously spreads while also trapping sediment, interfering with the function of the estuary,” said Tom Curley, the tribe’s Geographic Information Systems manager. “It could potentially make Doe-Keg-Wats a meadow, choking out excellent habitat for the juvenile salmon.”

Curley worked with the Washington Department of Agriculture (WDA) on various experiments to map out and remove the plants. Heavy pruning and digging the roots were among control measures taken. Removing the plants has worked well, but the work exposed muddy areas where any remaining spartina root fragments thrived. The most recent and most successful effort has been applying an herbicide, Imazapyr, which is not toxic to humans, animals and fish.

Rather than doing a general application, the herbicide is applied to the undersides of the leaves of each plant. While time-consuming, the efforts have been worthwhile, Curley said.

“It’s amazing what few spartina plants are left; we’ve probably killed 80 percent of it,” Curley said. “When we first started in the mid-1990s, we probably removed six or seven pick-up trucks full of the plants. This was one of the worst infestations in Puget Sound and we’re making some major progress.”

This project has been a collaboration between the tribe, local Boys Scouts, WDA and Environmental Protection Agency.


For more information, contact: Tom Curley, Suquamish GIS manager at (360) 394-8503 or [email protected]; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or [email protected].