Letters to the Editor

Herbicides: Lawns behind county spraying

Each spring county commissioners are reminded of the damaging effects of roadside herbicide spraying. The impact on people’s health resulting from this unnecessary spraying has been well documented. The policy of roadside herbicide spraying also is counter to public policy designed to protect the endangered salmon species and the soon-to-be declared endangered orca. The county’s herbicides, along with runoff from fertilizers and pesticides of private residences, are polluting our waterways but still it continues.

I suspect the major reason for the continued policy of poisoning our environment through herbicide spraying has much to do with pressure from some homeowners who view roadside spraying as an entitlement. From their perspective, Island County is assisting in their efforts to maintain a green, weedless lawn. Of course, that green, weedless lawn requiring large amounts of water, herbicides and fertilizers is obtained at a tremendous cost to the environment and public health. The homeowners could weed manually, which would be better for their health by providing exercise, but it is easier to rely on the county.

Teronda West is a case in point. This development has no through arterial. Given the absence of through traffic, there is not a valid safety reason for removing roadside grass and weeds. There is also no evidence that grass is destroying the road as county officials like to claim. Despite the lack of any compelling need to spray herbicides in Teronda it is done each year and a majority of the residents approve, but not for the reasons Island County presents to validate roadside spraying.

In Teronda West a proposal to request an end to spraying has been brought before the development each year. A sizable minority has supported a no spraying policy. This resolution has resulted in considerable debate. It is instructive that those who supported spraying did not do so from the position that it was needed for safety or to preserve roads, but instead they argued that spraying was needed as a tool to assist in keeping their lawns weed free. Thus, spraying has become an entitlement to middle class and affluent Island County residents.

To spray secluded developments such as Teronda West is a waste of taxpayer money and the labor of Island County road workers. Road crews could be put to a more important use than providing weed control for private residences while continuing to pollute and endanger our waters and wildlife.

Dick Hall

Coupeville

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