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Read the May 31st Press Release by Kai Huschke of CELDF: Lincoln County, OR, Adopts First-in-Nation Ban of Aerial Pesticide Spray
On May 30, Lincoln County passed ballot measure 21-177, a measure banning the aerial spraying of pesticides, making it the first county in the nation to do so. A group in Lane County is looking to enact a similar ban.
Aerial sprays are used to kill unwanted plants and bugs on crops and on private timberlands. Though many environmentalists and environmental justice advocates have qualms with any usage of toxic pesticides, aerial application is particularly frowned upon due to the risk of pesticide “drift” or “trespass” — when pesticides are dispersed outside of their target area due to wind and runoff. That phenomenon can affect humans as well, whether directly or through waterways.
Along with making it unlawful for any corporation to aerially spray pesticides, the Lincoln County measure also includes the “Right to Local Community Self-Government,” according to the Lincoln County’s Voter’s Pamphlet, where “for limited purpose of prohibiting aerial spraying, community has collective and individual right of self-government.”
Within this section of the measure, it also “authorizes direct action by person if county or courts fail to enforce law.”
Although the measure’s passing was a big win for both environmental and community rights activists, it’s not totally out of the woods yet as it’s faced both legal backlash and public opposition from local government.
Photo from Lincoln County Community Rights.
The local initiative, entitled “Freedom of Lincoln County from Aerially-Sprayed Pesticides”, would ban aerial pesticide spraying in coastal Lincoln County, and will be voted on in the upcoming May 2017 election. This would be the fourth Community Rights Measure that Oregonians will have voted on.
You can read the full text of the ordinance here.
Backers of Measure 21-177 on the May 16 ballot in Lincoln County say the aerial spraying of herbicides that Hancock was planning should be outlawed.
“The ballot measure is about pesticide spraying from a helicopter, plane or drone,” said Rio Davidson with with the group Citizens for a Healthy County. He says the measure uses the word pesticide to refer to both bug-killing and herbicide chemicals.
“So, this measure would make the practice illegal here in Lincoln County. And, we feel that’s really important to protect our watersheds, our children, and our wildlife,” Davidson said.
Davidson and fellow supporters are concerned that when pesticides are sprayed from the air, the chemicals can drift to homes and waterways, affecting people and the environment. The Eugene organization Beyond Toxics has documented stories of Oregonians who’ve experienced health problems after their homes were sprayed by chemicals that drift from adjacent properties. Davidson and other measure backers say they want to stop that from happening in their county.
Photo credit: Rio Davidson / Lincoln County Community Rights.