Pampas grass, often used in landscaping, threatens properties and fragile coastal ecosystems – COOS COUNTY, Ore. – South Slough National Estuarine and Research Reserve is asking coastal residents to survey their properties and remove pampas grass, following an extensive initiative that recently removed more than 5,000 of the plants from the Reserve. Pampas grass is the common name for two invasive plant species found throughout Coos Bay and other parts of the Southern Oregon Coast: Cortaderia jubata and C. selloana. The two species look similar, with tall stalks that can reach 6 – 23 feet in height, and large flower plumes that spread out at the end of the stalks. The plumes vary in color from deep purple, to pink or light brown. Coastal ecosystems, as well as residential and commercial properties, are impacted by the presence of pampas grass. The plants crowd out native plants and compete with seedling trees in forested areas, hindering their ability to grow. The long stalks and flowers of pampas grass make it a fire hazard for forested areas and homes. It can also block vehicle access to roads that are crucial during emergencies, like wildfires. Finally, pampas grass can attract and harbor rats. This January, South Slough Reserve coordinated with Coos Forest Protective Association to remove 140 cubic yards of pampas grass from the Reserve—over 5,000 plants. This removal targeted C. jubata, a species that can easily spread when its seeds are dispersed for miles by the wind. The pampas grass was growing in three patches around the Reserve. To remove the plants, workers used chainsaws to cut the leaves at their base and then dug the roots out with shovels. “It took us a little over ten days, about 650 person hours, to completely eliminate pampas grass within the Reserve,” said Dr. Alice Yeates, Stewardship Coordinator for South Slough Reserve. “However, there is always a chance it could reestablish.” Both species of pampas grass are often used in landscaping, which contributes to its spread and effects on fragile coastal ecosystems. Coastal residents can reduce the spread of pampas grass and its impact by removing the plants from their properties. The best time to remove pampas grass is during the spring, when soil is moist and it is easier to pull out the plant’s roots. South Slough Reserve relies on its volunteers to identify and report pampas grass and other invasive species at the Reserve. Anyone interested in helping out can submit a volunteer application.