Humboldt Bay Regional Invasive Spartina Control and Native Marsh Restoration Planning

The Humboldt Bay Regional Invasive Spartina Eradication and Native Salt Marsh Restoration Project involves controlling and eradicating non-native Spartina densiflora (dense-flowered cordgrass or Spartina) in Humboldt Bay, the Eel River estuary, and the Mad River estuary. The goals of the Project are to control Spartina and restore the Project area’s tidal marshlands, which provide habitat for a diverse community of plants and wildlife, including rare and threatened species of conservation concern. Control of Spartina would enhance approximately 1,700 acres of tidal wetlands.

Spartina in Humboldt Bay and adjacent estuaries also threatens to colonize other West Coast estuaries via ocean dispersal of its seeds; long range seed dispersal has been demonstrated by a drift card study performed by Portland State University. Drift cards from Humboldt Bay in 2004 and 2005 were found within a month of their release in numerous locations along the Oregon coast and in southwest Washington.

Spartina removal has been underway for the last several years at the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Planning is underway to extend these efforts outside the Refuge, initially in Humboldt Bay and the Mad River Estuary. Currenlty, mechanical removal methods are being employed. Mechanical removal treatments include top mowing and/or grinding with hand-held brushcutters or minitillers; mowing with heavy equipment, and top mowing followed by rototilling. Other methods covered in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) include disking, or crushing; covering; digging/excavating; flooding; and flaming, as well as herbicide applications by varying means.

The California Coastal Conservancy (Conservancy) is the lead agency under CEQA. The Conservancy certified the Final PEIR project at its April 18, 2013 meeting. The Conservancy circulated the Notice of Preparation (NOP) on January 7, 2011; the NOP and its comments defined the range of issues to be addressed in this PEIR. The NOP’s circulation date defines the existing conditions considered. The Draft PEIR was released on November 30, 2012, and public comment was accepted until January 15, 2013. Two public meetings were held in the Humboldt Bay area, on December 17 and 18, 2012.

To find out more about invasive Spartina in the Humboldt Bay region, go to the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge website, here: http://www.fws.gov/humboldtbay/spartina.html