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Say no to use of spraying of herbicides in national forest

| March 1, 2005 11:00 PM

To the Editor:

The U.S. Forest Service is currently putting together an invasive plant management plan for the Kootenai National Forest. The draft they released last summer included a long list of units, representing thousands of acres, to be aerially sprayed with herbicides.

Although I agree that weeds are rampant across the KNF, I think that herbicides, far from being an answer, are a much greater threat to our communities. Those who believe that these chemicals are safe and necessary to control weeds are wrong on both counts.

Why would anyone think that these poisons are safe? Perhaps because their manufacturers say they're safe and the EPA allows their use? Processors of asbestos and manufacturers of products containing asbestos once claimed that their products were safe and the EPA did not protect the people.

The manufacturers of pesticides want us to believe that it is safe to buy and use their products. However, the results of numerous case studies and independent lab studies concerning many of these chemicals indicate that the manufacturers' labels tend to be unrealistic about the dangers of using these products.

Perhaps people believe pesticide use is safe simply because their use has been so widespread for so long that they've become an accepted part of life. Actually widespread use of chemical pesticides dates back only 60 to 70 years and many of the health problems associated with them have increased dramatically during that same time span.

Spraying herbicides from a plane is reckless endangerment of the public. Aerially applied pesticides can drift miles from the intended application zone.

Over the past few decades this area has seen a large increase in herbicide use, yet weeds are more numerous and widespread than ever before. More spray has not meant less weeds. Weeds are here to stay and herbicides won't change that. It is not a question of weeds or poisons, but rather of weeds or weeds and poisons.

The USFS will soon be scheduling meetings to discuss this issue with the public and will present their final plan this summer. We, the people, need to say, "Enough. No longer will we be exposed to health hazards because someone with questionable judgment says it's safe."

Let's not look back later after we've been poisoned and wish we had said no. Say no now!

Brian Lawson

Troy