Herbicide spraying began Monday in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to control water hyacinth, an invasive water weed that has exploded in the region over the past nine months.
The California Department of Boating and Waterways began the spraying program in a zone extending east and south of Medford Island, and also along the San Joaquin River as far downstream as Friant Dam. Spraying will not begin in the north Delta, from about Franks Tract north to Sacramento, until June 1 to protect Delta smelt, a threatened native fish species.
The agency is spraying the herbicides 2,4,D and glyphosate from boats, under the terms of a five-year permit granted March 13 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The spraying program is funded by fees and taxes paid by boaters. The Delta's boating community has been sorely inconvenienced by last year's explosion of hyacinth, which has been present in the Delta since the 1940s.
The Bee reported in January that a regular annual spraying program began late start last year because Boating and Waterways waited too long to obtain a new five-year spraying permit, which is required in order to protect endangered species.
The new permit allows spraying to begin earlier in some areas, in March instead of June, to attack the weed as it begins to bloom with warmer spring temperatures. It also allows the use of two new herbicides, penoxsulam and imazamox, thought to be more effective at lower concentrations.
For more information, visit http://www.dbw.ca.gov/BoaterInfo/WaterHyacinth.aspx.
Contact The Bee's Matt Weiser at (916) 321-1264. Follow him on Twitter @matt_weiser.