Bellevue beaches to close for weed spraying

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BELLEVUE, Wash. —

The city of Bellevue is shutting down three beaches for a day next week to kill what's called "the most problematic plant in Washington." The problem is a plant called Eurasian milfoil. It's an invasive plant, the city of Bellevue is trying to keep in check. So Bellevue is closing the beaches to try to kill this stuff with an herbicide. 


The state Department of Ecology's website said milfoil used to be an aquarium plant. It got into Lake Washington in the 1970s and is spread by boat trailers all across the northwest and into Canada.
It grows so thick it chokes out native plants and sucks the oxygen out of the water, which is bad for  fish and fishing.

Luke Delci caught a dandy bass at Clyde Beach Thursday, but he complains he caught far more milfoil than fish.

"When I'm reeling in, like sometimes it gets tangled so I have to cut the line. And sometimes my hook gets stuck in there," said Delci.

Milfoil is also a hassle for boaters, and potentially dangerous to swimmers.

"A swimmer trying to wade through it can get caught up on their arms and potentially become a hazard for small children. For boaters it gets caught up in their props," said Bellevue project manager Rick Bailey, who is organizing the spraying.

Bailey says the city has tried holding milfoil down with wire mesh and hiring divers to cut it -but nothing has worked well. This year they hired a company to spray an herbicide called Diquat on the water to kill milfoil. It won't be sprayed directly at the beaches, but could drift toward them. The city is closing them as a precaution.

"The only sort of irritants it can cause, if you're exposed to it, would be primarily skin irritation and eye irritation," Baily said.

These beaches will be closed Monday:  Clyde, Meydenbauer and Newcastle. The adjacent parks will remain open. The beaches will reopen Tuesday morning.