All Dressed Up For Conservation Work

Writing and photos by Stephanie Burgart, Conservation Coordinator

While visiting our Mount Vernon field office recently, I was invited last minute to go searching for a derelict dock that had washed in with the tide, as well as scout for invasive spartina plants at the Port Susan Bay preserve.

Stephanie and the dock.

Spartina alterniflora, also known as salt-marsh cordgrass or oyster grass, is invasive to the marshes of Washington and spreads aggressively by its seeds and rhizomes (a stalk that spreads underground and generates new plants, like a specialized root). The Nature Conservancy uses contractors and specialized herbicides to find and eradicate this noxious weed.

But how do you find it? Walk out in the marsh!

We found the dock pretty quickly, but spotting the spartina was harder. This is mostly a good thing, since it means our efforts to control the weed are working. But it’s not ideal because it’ll be a harder day's work for the contractors.

And what could make it harder? Doing it in a dress. I call it #fancyscience. Knee-high boots and a knee-length dress made for some interesting sensations trudging through the grasses and mud.