Non-native beach grass a topic of protest

Protestors gather at 'Kid's Ocean Day' to oppose pulling of European beach grass

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. - On Wednesday, children from schools across Humboldt County took part in picking up trash and removing non-native European crab grass from the dunes near South Jetty in Loleta as part of the 11th annual "Kid's Ocean Day." However the removal of that grass was met with opposition.

Protestors gathered in the South Spit parking lot to express their distaste for the removal of the grass.

"We have a problem with any agencies pulling beach grass, protestor Uri Driscoll said.

"Beach grass is a highly beneficial species that has produced a lot of healthy habitat and coastal protections that we need to pay attention do," Driscoll added.

Friends of the Dunes, who partnered with Bureau of Land Management to put on the Kid's Ocean Day Program said removing the non-native grass is imperative in order to create bio-diversity.

"We've been doing restoration for the last 30-plus years," Suzie Fortner of Friends of the Dunes said.

"Our belief, which is supported by science and research, is that when you remove the invasive species that were introduced by people, you end up with native diversity," Fortner added.

Protestors said it's not only erosion and the habitat they're concerned for, but the money spent on removing the non-native grass. They said removing the grass isn't sustainable because the grass comes right back. Adding it costs $38,000 per acre to remove it.

"The money spent on removing the grass is an extreme amount. Here on this spit (South Spit) we've estimated it's about $2 1/2 million. I think we have better uses for our money," Driscoll said.

Both sides appear to have the protection of the coastlines in mind, with differing opinions on how to do it.

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