Baird is instrumental in securing funding for spartina eradicationLONG BEACH, Wash. - The giant federal spending bill just passed by Congress includes cash to continue battling a nasty weed.

U.S. Rep. Brian Baird, whose district includes Pacific County, helped secure $1.4 million to control the spread of the invasive species spartina, notably at Willapa Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

"The elimination of this invasive species is outlined in a six-year plan developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with private landowners and the local park system," Baird said. "Federal funding is critical to continuing the fight against spartina, in which significant progress has been made. 2003 marked the first year in which more acres of spartina were eradicated than grew."

In addition, Baird worked with another Washington Congressman, Rep. Norm Dicks, to secure $650,000 to combat coastal erosion around Shoalwater Bay. In recent decades, the land resources of the Shoalwater Bay Tribe have been eroded by coastal-generated forces.

"This land serves as a protective barrier against ocean and storm-generated destructive forces. The funds appropriated will complete a study to evaluate, analyze and define the cause of the coastal erosion of land around the Shoalwater Bay and begin a construction project to halt future erosion," Baird said.

An additional $91,000 was approved to expand Washington State University's Aquaculture Research Initiative to address the needs of Washington's shellfish growers. The research will focus on combating the proliferation of invasive species, such as spartina and burrowing shrimp, which threaten the livelihoods of many coastal residents.

Another $351,000 was earmarked to continue research into improving broodstock and increasing commercial

production of Pacific oysters at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Since the establishment of the research project in 1995, yields of the genetically selected broodstock have improved over wild broodstock by almost 10 percent.

Some $425,000 was allocated for the Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research, which conducts research to focus on genetic and environmental technologies intended to increase grower returns and improve product taste and quality.

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