Lower Yakima River Water Quality & Habitat
Benton Conservation District hosts the
Lower Yakima Water Quality & Habitat Monitoring Group, with the goal of coordinating resources across local, state, federal, tribal and non-profit entities. Members share information about projects and funding, seek input to monitoring plans or project proposals, evaluate data and help develop priorities for future work. 

Financial support is provided by
the Washington State Department of Ecology.

Spring 2020 Presentations
Fall 2020 Presentations
Fall 2021 Presentations

 
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Stargrass Dynamics

Stargrass dominates the lower Yakima River
Photo by Stephen Ingalls, Benton County Mosquito Control

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US Geological Survey monitored stargrass impacts on water quality

Benton Conservation District (BCD) is leading the community effort to deal with water stargrass. Although a native plant, water stargrass acts like an invasive species dominating the lower river to the exclusion of other native plants. The dense vegetation creates challenges for irrigation and recreation, degrades water quality and fish habitat, and enhances breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitos.

Water stargrass has steadily increased over the last two decades. After the sun goes down, water stargrass consumes more oxygen than it produces, and sometimes causes dangerous drops in the amount of oxygen available to fish and other aquatic life. Salmon spawning in the lower river below Prosser has declined over the past decade as water stargrass covers traditional nesting grounds. 

With the help of our basin partners, state legislative funding, and grant funding from the Department of Ecology and the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan, BCD is developing a combination of tools to help our community manage the ongoing challenges posed by water stargrass.