Treating Reed Canarygrass

July 20, 2023

By Lisa Docken, CRWP Executive Director


A number of years ago, the Cordova District US Forest Service (USFS) invited CRWP to partner in addressing and treating invasive plants in and around the community of Cordova. 

The summary below highlights some additional information to better inform the community about treating Reed canarygrass, one of the highly invasive plants we work to manage in the region.

Treatment of Reed canarygrass has included:

  • Multi-year efforts of manual seed head removal by staff and volunteers
  • Mowed and tarped sites for years in an attempt to kill stems and roots
  • Chemical treatment as the last resort could occur in mid-to late September

Intermittently at points throughout this work, members of the community have expressed concerns about chemical treatment of Reed canarygrass. The USFS and the Copper River Watershed Project hosted a public workshop at the USFS building in Cordova to engage and better understand our community’s concerns. From that meeting, the staff generated an FAQ about Reed canarygrass, specifically addressing chemical treatment. 

Chemical treatment of this invasive grass can only occur when we have very dry conditions (no rain), no standing water, not within a regulated distance from a water body, and when wind conditions are low – is applied only to the plant (no broad spraying) and is marked with a flag at the time of treatment by a licensed applicator.

Concentrations of Reed canarygrass that may be targeted, if all the stars align for weather conditions, are from mile 0 to mile 1 along Whitshed Road and one small spot near the marina. There are more areas on the Copper River Highway in town, but many of the infestations cannot be treated chemically because they don’t meet the requirements for that kind of treatment. 

Reed canarygrass threatens the Copper River delta where it can choke out salmon habitat and outcompete native berry bushes if left to spread.

The FAQ sheet on our website can help clarify the program and how it pertains to berry picking and roadside activities.