Return to Home Page

Spartina Project

spartina map 2008-2010

The California Coastal Conservancy's Invasive Spartina Project douses the San Francisco Estuary with pesticides annually from as early as April to October, by backpacks, trucks, boats, and helicopters. 

Please see the schedule, which is updated periodically as new application dates are estimated, for details of which chemical or manual methods are used in which area:

Schedule of applications done. We need dates ahead of time in order to give people a chance at least to try to stay away around pesticide application time periods if they have anywhere else they can go:

The users and pushers:

Toxicological profile of the pesticide being used around the San Francisco Bay by the Spartina Project users:

Spartina Project Schedule 2009 (pdf) (html)

To get an idea of previous application patterns, please see previous years' schedules:

Spartina Project Schedule 2008 (pdf) (html)

Spartina Project Schedule 2007 (pdf) (html)

After 2006 the Spartina Project stopped including the number of acres of each application on their schedule, but they can still be seen here:

Spartina Project Schedule 2006 (pdf) (html)

To see which agencies are responsible for pesticide applications in your area, see:

Spartina Project Site Specific Plans 2008-2010 (pdf)

July 17 2006
Letter from EBPA Chronics Effects Researcher to San Leandro, Oakland, Hayward and San Francico Officials:

With little public notice, today and tomorrow 9 miles of East Bay shoreline is to be sprayed by helicopter bombardment with Imazapyr, an herbicide pesticide. We're told it's safe. Get the facts. Go to Under Oakland's herbiciding hills plan click on Imazapyr. 48 studies cited, 18 EPA; 1 Forestry Service; myriad chemical industry Toxicological facts: expect eye and skin irritation. Animal studies showed stomach ulcers and intestinal lesions. Chronic toxicity? Oh, yes. Animal studies highlighted fluid accumulation in the lungs; congestion of the brain; abnormal blood formation in the spleen; blood pooling in the liver; increase in thyroid cysts. Not yet called carcinogenic by EPA, "carcinogenic concerns" include: increase in brain and thyroid tumors and cancers in rats.

EPA says "....terrestrial and aquatic plant species... in jeopardy... use of Arsenal (Imazapyr product)." A related herbicide has high chronic toxicity to fish at concentrations less than 1ppm. EPA notes its half-life is 17 months. When it enters drinking water sources, ozone degrades only half. Drift and resistance, like antibiotic resistance, is common with pesticides. Cross resistance is seen with Imazapyr.

A neurotoxic breakdown product causes nerve lesions and symptoms similar to Huntington's disease.

People needed jobs: manual removal is a safe answer.

Maxina Ventura
Chronic Effects Researcher
East Bay Pesticide Alert

Imazapyr toxicological profile

Also part of the Spartina pesticides program: Glyphosate products. Monsanto's Roundup is one example of a typical Glyphosate-based product.

What's Wrong With Roundup

In September 2006 the governors of California, Oregon, and Washington entered into the "West Coast Governors' Agreement on Ocean Health" (WCGA). One of several "Action Coordination Teams" is dedicated to ridding the entire West Coast of "non-native" spartina:

Draft Work Plan of the WCGA's Spartina Eradication Action Coordination Team

Whether spartina is the horrifying invasive the proponents of this program claim it to be, is debatable. In Willapa Bay, Washington, oyster farmers are losing their livelihoods, not because of cordgrass, but because of their local spartina project dumping the very same chemicals into their bay. They question the danger of spartina, pointing out its benefits: "Spartina is a C-4 plant, sequesters more CO2 than other kinds of vegetation. Stabilizes the shoreline, keeps the bay water clean and free of algae bloom." In other parts of the country they are deliberately planting the same type of cordgrass, and treating it as almost endangered. It has also been found useful in bioremediation of certain toxic compounds.

As for non-toxic alternatives, undoubtedly manual removal of large areas of cordgrass presents a challenge, but it's certainly not impossible. Rather than spending an obscene amount of money on chemicals, that money would be better spent on hiring the many unemployed, who are literally starving for work. Or organize volunteers as they do in Puget Sound for the annual Spartina Dig. If it's such a big emergency, how about holding those responsible who planted the cordgrass in the first place, the U.S. military? Clearly they have the people power and physical strength to remove it manually, without declaring chemical warfare on the bay.