View from the uphill side of the logged area; the clearcut is to the left.
This is about 200 yards from our gate.
The logging operation, which involved removing every single tree on both sides of the road, went on from mid-November 2014 to early January 2015. Just like that, all those acres of animal habitat, erosion control, oxygen production and beautiful scenery gone.
This is about 1/4 mile down from our gate, shortly after the clearcut.
The remaining trees are mostly 80' tall or more; as you can see, they are nearly all fir, not the alder or cherry trees targeted by the planned spraying.
Six months after the logging was concluded, the area was just starting to look green again. Alder stumps are sending out shoots, a favorite food for deer to browse on. Lots of sword ferns are thriving. I have seen Red-Tailed Hawks, American Kestrels, and even a Golden Eagle hunting over this ground this summer. I have no doubt that many small birds and mammals have moved back in, now that there is some cover and more food sources.
By the way, the eastern border of the spray area runs very close to the Dungeness River and is less than a mile upstream from the Dungeness Fish Hatchery. For those unfamiliar with the Dungeness River, it is a major spawning ground for salmon and steelhead, and we're rapidly approaching that time of year again.
This is all the notice we were given about the impending spraying. I actually never noticed it until David told me where to look for it, although I passed it several times on the road.
About a week ago, my husband David noticed a sign posted on a tree at the northern border of the logged area. The white 11" x 14" sign is on a tree at least 30 feet from the road, and not at all easy to get to, which you have to do in order to read the thing. It announces the impending aerial application of not one but three horrible herbicides: Glyphosate (Roundup), Sulphometron Extra, and Clopyralid. When? Anywhere between August 24 and September 30!
Over to the right, just above center, you can see the sign as it appears from the road.
It is impossible to read unless you're within a few feet of it.
This area is quite hilly and frequently windy; the winds are more noticeable since all those tall trees were removed. Because of the terrain and the tall trees surrounding the spray area, we believe that the helicopter will have to fly high enough that it can't possibly confine the spray to the designated space.
When we called Merrill & Ring, we were told that the spraying is to control alder trees; around here alders are considered weed trees by many, although many others (including ourselves) rely on the fast-growing alder as an excellent firewood for heating our homes. However, according to the sign, the “target” vegetation includes salmonberries, elderberries, cherry, thistle and (wait for it) grass. Presumably they are planning to replant the area with fir and other non-weedy timber trees, and someone thinks it's a good idea to prepare the ground by killing everything in or near it.
Incidentally, I see very little evidence –and believe me, I have been looking– of salmonberries and elderberries surreptitiously taking over the place. I grant you there is grass. Are they seriously saying grass is going to impede their efforts to plant trees here?
I didn't have to look far to find out some very disturbing details about the herbicides. Take a look at the Wikipedia page about Roundup (glyphosate). Or this fact sheet about sulphometron extra. The third chemical, Wikipedia page about chlopyralid, is just as bad. Here is a little of what its Wikipedia page says: “... damaging to peas, tomatoes and sunflowers... may make potatoes, lettuce and spinach inedible... known to persist in dead plants [i.e. compost].” OK, you pretty much had me at Roundup.
Is that really all the notice that M & R is required to give us, an inconspicuous small sign on a tree? Would it have been so terrible to pick up the phone, let us know what was happening, and give us an opportunity to ask questions and express our concerns? How about an environmental impact statement, with notices in local papers? So far we've been unable to get a straight answer to our question about exactly when the spraying will occur; presumably there are possible weather issues when it comes to flying helicopters, but still, the range of possible dates is ridiculous.
Merrill & Ring had better get used to hearing our voices on the phone. Damn right I'm upset.
Like David said, every time we hear a helicopter near us we're going to wonder if today is the day. Or one of the days. At the moment, all we know is that sometime soon, they will be spraying horrible, poisonous stuff on both sides of a road we use daily, near our home, our food and water supply, our animals and the local environment at large. It matters not a bit that we are the only ones –at least the only humans– living near the area to be sprayed. It is simply not right.