Oregon Pesticide Action Network Coalition Talking Points

Making Comments on Lane County Roadside Spray

1. The goals of roadside maintenance are ongoing ever-present tasks. The “battle” against weeds or roads surface deterioration cannot be “won” because all facilities need upkeep, nothing stays pristine.

2. The County Commissioners also serve as the County Board of Health, and in that capacity must provide the appropriate budget to manage our roadsides with the goals of public health, not just killing weeds with herbicides (that will grow right back the next season). These public right-of-ways need to be kept safe for travelers, surveyors, utility workers, bicyclists and children waiting for school buses and walking to and from their homes. Many of the herbicides used on roadsides are endocrine disruptors and suspected carcinogens. Since the No Spray policy has been in place, there have been no health complaints and no chemical litigation. That saves the County money and keeps Lane County families healthy.

3. Lane County Public Works Roadside Vegetation Program under the leadership of Orin Schumacher, has developed a staff of highly trained and knowledgeable workers; they have been trained to recognize native plants and invasive weeds. They work hard to enact best management practices and alternative treatments. The County Public Works Department has achieved advancements in equipment and mechanical attachments to manage vegetation. We should never lose sight of the value of these trained public employees. The County Commissioners should support the road maintenance staff and must not negate the years of work to develop this excellent program.

4. There are many negative costs of using herbicides and additional costs will be incurred to buy spray trucks (the County sold their spray trucks years ago), other equipment to grade shoulders and purchase gallons of herbicides every year.

5. One main complaint of the No Spray program is the extra effort it takes to remove vegetation from guardrails, however the primary purpose of NOT spraying near guard rails is that they are often along rivers streams and ditches that contain surface water. We must not use pesticides near any kind of surface water because these waters become our drinking water, our places to boat, swim and fish, and are the streams that support salmon and fish habitat.

6. There are additional costs that will be incurred from having to start up a program of ditching, graveling and removing dead vegetation should the current No Spray Policy be stopped.

7. Lane County has developed excellent partnerships with agencies, watershed councils and other partners to manage roadside vegetation.

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County Commission Pondering Roadside Pesticides
BY CAMILLA MORTENSEN, Eugene Weekly

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