Just Shy of Splendor in the Grass

By Jacoba Charles

Tobias Rohmer and Ben Chen’s careful work in Hayward’s Cogswell Marsh represents one small moment in the massive, nearly 20-year-old Invasive Spartina Project. To date an initial total of 805 acres of non-native cordgrass, spread across 70,000 acres of the San Francisco Bay’s marshlands, has been reduced to less than 40 net acres. Treatment of the southern section of Cogswell marsh was halted in 2011, however, due to concerns about Ridgway’s rails who’d made homes in the invader. Project staff hope to resume treatment in the future, but for the moment the site serves as an example both of how far they have come and what they hope to avoid. “Complete eradication has been and still is our goal,” says Marilyn Latta of the California State Coastal Conservancy. “That takes a constant pressure. We can’t let up, we can’t take a year off, we can’t not monitor or treat for very long.”

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About the author

Jacoba Charles is a naturalist and science writer. Her first article, at age eight, was about the behavior of ducks as observed from the roof of her family’s barn. It went unpublished. She later graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism (2007). In addition to writing for Estuary News, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, and Modern Farmer, Bay Nature, Marin Magazine, and various literary publications. Her botany blog can be found at flowersofmarin.com and her website is jacobacharles.com. She lives in Petaluma with her family.