News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included $1 million in federal funding to fight the infestation of Spartina grass at Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. Spartina is a non-native invasive species that threatens the delicate ecosystem of the refuge located in Southwest Washington. The funding Murray provided has been included in the Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill which passed the Appropriations Committee today. Senator Murray is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

Senator Murray has previously secured over $5 million to eradicate Spartina at Willapa since 2003. The $1 million in funding included in the legislation unveiled today will complete the multi-year effort Murray has helped spearhead.

"This funding will help complete a project that has helped protect Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and the species and local economy that depend on its fragile ecosystem," said Senator Murray. "I am so glad to have been able to support keeping the Refuge healthy and the jobs and livelihood of the region’s shellfish growers stable. I will continue to work to invest in projects that protect our natural resources and keep the promise of a beautiful Washington state for future generations." 

"We deeply appreciate Senator Murray’s continued support of the Spartina eradication program," said Katherine Mack Driscoll, President, Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. "Senator Murray’s consistent leadership in this important effort supports not only critical shorebird habitat, but also the economic well-being of many families and communities who depend on Willapa Bay for their livelihood."

Spartina, commonly known as cordgrass, is an aggressive aquatic noxious weed that severely disrupts the ecosystems of native saltwater estuaries in Willapa Bay.  It out-competes native vegetation and converts mudflats into monotypic Spartina meadows, destroying important migratory shorebird and waterfowl habitat, increasing the threat of flooding and severely impacting the local shellfish industry.

Two thirds of Washington's oysters are harvested in Pacific County and count for 23% of the nation's annual oyster harvest. The state's oyster harvest alone produces about 8 million pounds each year and routinely ranks first or second by volume in the nation.