BENTON CITY, Wash.-- Pulling stargrass from river benefits many. Volunteers are pulling water stargrass from the lower 43 miles of the Yakima River. The Benton Conservation District received a two-year grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to clean-up the stargrass.
Biologist Rachel Little says "when the plants grow so thick, it makes it tougher to enjoy boating, fishing and swimming when you have to fight through a jungle of water stargrass." The stargrass has been blanketing the bottom of the river which makes it difficult for salmon to spawn. Stargrass is also a problem for people who get water irrigation from the river because the grass clogs up intake areas.
Stargrass not only takes up a lot of room in the Yakima River, but also consumes a lot of oxygen that aquatic animals need to survive.
Volunteers and the Benton County Conservation District are working to make the Yakima River cleaner than before.
The on-site farmer Dale Harkins says "the goal is to see a clean river with fish in it and a habitat as you would normally find in a river. I think we are starting to see the beginning of that."
The waste taken from the river is being used as compost and recycled on farmlands to help grow crops.