(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – United States Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced today that she has secured $1.4 million for control of Spartina grass in the Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Located in southwestern Washington, Willapa was recently designated as Number Two on the Audubon Society’s list of the top ten locations suffering from a significant and growing threat by invasive species.

"The Willapa National Wildlife Refuge is one of our state's most precious natural resources," Murray said. "This money will help keep the Refuge's delicate ecosystems healthy and beautiful for generations to come, and will help our shellfish growers maintain an important industry in the region."

Invasive species are harmful, nonnative plants, animals, and microorganisms found throughout the United States that are causing widespread damage to bird and wildlife habitat, crops, rangelands, and waterways. Willapa Bay is threatened by Spartina grass, which had rapidly infesting intertidal mudflats and salt marshes.

This is the third year Willapa Bay has received federal funding to fight Spartina. In the fiscal year 2004 Interior Appropriations Bill, Murray secured $1 million for Willapa Bay, and in FY 2003, she also secured $1 million.

The bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee today, and now goes to the full Senate for consideration.