Organizers of a Saturday rally at Lake Selmac say they want to increase awareness of the potential dangers of aerial pesticides that are applied to private forestlands and drift onto private properties.

The event is being held in conjunction with an anti-pesticide rally at Triangle Lake, where a federal study determined that 100 percent of rural residents tested for pesticides had both 2,4-D and Atrazine in their bodies, said Lisa Arkin, executive director of Beyond Toxics, one of the sponsors for the events.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Anti-pesticide rally.

WHERE: Trout shelter at Lake Selmac, Illinois Valley.

WHEN: 11 a.m., Saturday.

SPONSORS: Coalition of groups, including Beyond Toxics.

Triangle Lake is about 30 air miles west of Eugene.

The connection is that both rural areas have had instances in which pesticides sprayed on private forestlands in recent years have affected the health of local residents, Arkin said.

“People want the use of these chemicals to be investigated by the state,” she said. “Legislation would go a long way to stop it. The governor could also send a message out that he wants a solution.”

Any solution also would require a change in the Oregon Forest Practices Act, she said.

Unlike decades ago when federal land agencies using pesticides on forests caused an outcry from adjacent residents and forest users, the concern is now over chemicals drifting from applications on private forestlands onto homes and watersheds, she said.

“The private industries hire helicopter operators to deliver these toxins,” she said. “They claim this is a safe practice, based on drift studies of chemicals applied by fixed-wing aircraft in places like Iowa.

“The obvious difference here is that they use helicopters in Oregon where you have craggy mountain ranges and deep valleys,” she added.

“We have homes near these private forestlands and streams coming out of them.”

The result is the sprayed chemicals drifting onto people and watersheds, she said.

The federal Center for Disease Controls in Atlanta and the Oregon Health Authority believe the exposure to the chemicals found in Triangle Lake residents is from aerial herbicide spraying on private forestlands, she said. The chemicals have been known to cause cancer and neurological disruptions, she said.

“Rural communities want protection from the state government regarding these aerial pesticide sprays,” she said.

Both events will begin with opening remarks from members of Native American tribes. Local residents who have experienced problems with pesticide drift will also address the rally.

In addition to Beyond Toxics, the events are being organized by Oregon Pesticide Action Workgroup, Illinois Valley Pesticide Awareness Coalition, Williams Waterway Project, Precious Dirt, Forestland Dwellers, Mothers of Triangle Lake, Triangle Lake Pesticide Victims United and members of local native tribes.

For more information, check out www.BeyondToxics.org or www.PreciousDirt.org.