Comment period extended for use if herbicide to fight eelgrass

The comment period has been extended for a proposal that would continue to allow local shellfish growers to keep using a chemical to remove invasive plants.

Based on new scientific research and data, the Washington is updating an existing, active permit that allows commercial shellfish growers to continue to use the herbicide imazamox to control non-native eel grass in Willapa Bay.

The growers requested the permit from Ecology several years ago because the non-native eel grass makes it difficult to grow and harvest clams.

When Ecology issued the permit in 2014, they required the growers to study and verify that a 10-meter unsprayed buffer around the treatment area adequately protects native eelgrass and water quality.

This permit prohibits the discharge of imazamox after the third year of permit issuance and requires a permit modification to allow for continued use.

Scientific research and results show that the process is working as intended and confines the herbicide impact to the applied area.

By removing the prohibition on the discharge of imazamox after the third year of permit issuance, Ecology is maintaining the 10 meter buffer.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, imazamox is practically non-toxic for mammals, fish, birds and invertebrates.

EPA does not believe it poses a hazard to public health in or on food products.

This permit is specifically tailored for commercial clam beds in Willapa Bay only.

Before the updates to the active permit become official, the public has the opportunity to review and comment on them through March 7.

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