Mendocino County, California

The fight to make Mendocino County organic and non-toxic has been long. We can only hope that it will come to an end soon.

The following articles have been researched and found by Robin Sunbeam and others and I have compiled them below. The oldest is at the bottom and the newest is at the top. I apologize for the text being a little difficult to read in some of these articles. They are OCR from old newspapers and some letters and words are garbled.

May 23, 1997 Ukiah Daily Journal


Plans to cut the use of herbicides by both Caltrans and the City of Ukiah are to be brought back to the City Council for its consideration.

Caltrans District 1 Director Rick Knapp spoke at Wednesday’s Ukiah City Council meeting about its vegetation control program and asked the council to let Caltrans continue to spray along the 1.8 miles of Highway 101 that runs through the city limits.

“Our vegetation management program’s emphasis is on safety,” said Knapp, adding the agency is working to reduce the use of herbicides by 80 percent over the next 15 years.

Council members said they thought it would be hypocritical for the city to ask Cal- trans to quit spraying if city departments continued to use herbicides.

Councilman Jim Mastin said “one of the problems he sees is we (the city) don’t have a program to reduce our use.”

Mastin didn’t want to take the county’s position demanding Caltrans quit spraying in the Mendocino County but allowing three county departments to keep spraying.

“It is easier to tell them (Caltrans) to stop,” he said, “then to force ourselves to stop.”

Councilwoman Kristy Kelly said the city needs to respond to local opposition to spraying and “show our intent to move toward zero usage.”

Public Works Director Rick Kennedy said the city uses five gallons of concentrated Roundup a year, and it only does spot spraying except for one area at the airport which is hard to mow.

It’s not sprayed everywhere in the city,” Kennedy said. “We spray areas only once a year,” but he said the one employee who does the spraying does it when he has time and there isn’t a regular schedule.

Over the last six years, said City Manager Candace Horsley, Ukiah has worked to reduce its use of herbicides to five gallons.

The county says it uses about two gallons of concentrated Roundup a year. And Knapp said Caltrans uses two-tenths of one percent of all pesticides applied in Mendocino County on a yearly basis.

“Any reduction of herbicide uses by the county, city or Cal-trans,” said Knapp, “won’t affect the health risk to people” because the majority of pesticide use isn’t by governmental agencies.

But Ukiah resident John McCowen said the use of herbicides by public agencies is “a different issue then private use of herbicides.”

Local attorney Barry Vogel supported this viewpoint saying “to deny citizens the right to be free from exposure to toxins on public property is very different than private property owners using them.”

Vogel characterized Caltrans’ effort to reduce herbicide use by 80 percent as “let’s be less bad and serve you less poison in your area.”

Mastin asked Knapp to put together a plan to use spot spraying along Highway 101 and mow or use other means to control most of the vegetation on the roadsides. The city staff was also direct-

Dec 14, 1996 Press Democrat

Mendocino embraces anti-herbicide effort

Feb 17, 1996 Ukiah Daily Journal

Group plans march, rally against Caltrans roadside spraying


A coalition of groups opposed to Cal-trans roadside spraying is planning a march and rally Wednesday in Ukiah.

The lunchtime demonstration will begin at 11:30 a.m. when people from all over the county will gather at the Alex R. Thomas Jr. Plaza downtown, said Els Cooperrider, one of the organizers of the event, and then march up State Street to the Mendocino County Court House.

After the march, a rally will be held at the court house from noon until about 1 p.m., said Cooperrider. “We 1 thought if we had it during the noon hour,” she said, “people: might want to use lunch hour to attend.”

Gary Ball from the Mendocino Environmental Center, which is helping to put together the event, said the growing movement against Caltrans spraying has brought together anti-toxic groups and also individuals from the coast and the inland areas.

A Ukiah resident opposed to herbicide spraying, John McCowen, said one of his biggest concerns about Caltrans is the state agency ignores the will of the county’s elected representatives and the people who live here.

“They should be working for the people,” he said of Caltrans which is financed by tax dollars, “and not following their own agenda.”

Caltrans District 1 Director Rick Knapp has formed a Roadside Vegetation Control Advisory Committee and selected Cooperrider as one of its 14 members.

The committee met for the first time recently, and Cooperrider said the members voted to make the gatherings open to the public with a 20-minute public expression period at the end of each meeting.

“This shouldn’t be happening behind closed doors,” she said.

Although the group has no actual power, it recommends to Caltrans viable alternatives to control vegetation along the roadways other than using herbicides.

“We will make those recommendations known to the public,” said Cooperrider, “and the public will know if they are followed up on.”

Along with Cooperrider, who is from Ukiah, two other Mendocino County residents are on the Caltrans committee — Dr. Marc Lappe of Gualala, a member of one of the opposition groups, and Peter Chevalier of Ukiah, who works for a pesticide distribution company.

The advisory committee includes members from the five counties in Cal- trans District 1: Humboldt, Del Norte, Mendocino, Lake and Sonoma counties.

Its schedule of public meetings is as follows: April 24, Garberville; June 19, Lake County; Aug. 21, Fort Bragg; and Nov. 20, Klamath

Dec 19, 1988 Press Democrat

State bows to group: Caltrans halts weed spraying


Dec 19, 1988 Press Democrat

Roadside spraying blocked

Petaluma Argus-Courier  July 20, 1988
Congratulations to artist Donna Sheehan of Marshall, who has been named Environmentalist of the Year by the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin!  Donna is a founder of Mow Our Weeds (MOW), a five-year old group that is dedicated to eradicating the use of herbicides by CalTrans to control the growth of roadside weeds along Highway One from Tam junction to Valley Ford in Marin County.

Members of MOW have spent untold hours researching the harmful effects of herbicides such as Round-Up on humans and animals, made signs saying No Spray: Mow Our Weeds, have blocked Caltrans sprayer trucks with their own bodies, and have even taken their fight to the courts – winning a temporary injunction in December from a Marin Superior Court Judge against Cal Trans because that agency had failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act in getting its herbicides approved for roadside spraying.

Thanks, Donna and the gang at MOW!


October 7th 1973 The Press Democrat from Santa Rosa, California

Weed spraying halted

This article is unfortunately not available in the archives. We will try to add this later.

June 3, 1979 Ukiah Daily Journal


All herbicides derived from 2,4> IMchlaropbeno – induing and aivex (but not 1,4-D) contain • chemical contaminant farmed In the manufacturing process known as a ^J^etrachtorodlbenaoiHitoadn (TCDD). TCDQ has been cited as the most lethal substance known to man. It appears is an unavoidable contaminant in commercial supplies of 2 ,4 ,5-T and Silvex. A group of scientists in a report for the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) have stated that present 2 ,4 ,5-T and Silves formulations are not strong enough to endanger human health or to affect plants or animals in the environment. Opponents, however, refute these claims. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 8PRING BAN The Environmental Protection Agency this spring issued an emergency suspension of 2 ,4 ,5-T and Silvex for some uses, Including on forests, because of studies linking the herbicide’s use with human incidences of illness, miscarriages and birth defects. 2,4 -D is not included in the ban. Chemical companies challenged that ban in the courts and lost. In its research the EPA found that the herbicide 2 ,4 ,5-T and its dioxin contaminant have killed fetuses or caused birth defects, such as cleft palate, among laboratory mice, rats, hamsters and birds In tests by the National Institutes of Health and other researchers. Additionally, 2,4,5 -T and dioxin have caused leukemia or lung, liver or other tumors among mice and rats in studies conducted by the National Institute of Health, Dow Chemical and others. Moreover, EPA calculations show that an “ample margin of safety may not exist” for persons applying the pesticide or people exposed to aircraft spraying it. 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D attracted national attention after they were used in Vietnam to defoliate forests. Reports of human illness, miscarriages, birth defects and increased incidences of liver and kidney damage followed their use. ) The Department of Defense dropped the use of these chemicals following a public outcry in 1970. The CAST report argues, however, that the yearly application rates in Vietnam were often “30-fold greater than commercial usage and that the concentration of the controversial dtoxln contaminant in 2,4,5 -T was 1001,000 -fold greater than it is in currently manufactured materials.” The report adds that dioxin application rates were “3,000 to 30,000 times greater per acre than for current applications.” CHKONUUOGY OF EVENTS IN MENDOCINO COUNTY LEADING TO INITIATIVE In Mendocino County, the controversy over the use of the phenoxy herbicides began in August, 1973. At that time, 461 people signed a petition asking for an end to roadside herbicide spraying by the county public works department. The then county Health Officer Holtzer issued a news release warning roadside vegetation should not be eaten because sprays could not be washed off and because vehicle exhaust contamination was dangerous. The protest culminated in a July 3. 1974 opinion by former Attorney General Eveile Younger that Mendocino County had to prepare an environmental impact report before using phenoxies on roadsides. In October 1974, 36 Branscomb residents signed a petition asking for an investigation of the spraying there which, they claimed, caused them to suffer flu symptoms.^ The Environmental Protection Center in Fort Bragg, in March, 1975, petitioned the California Department of Food and Agriculture to ban phenoxy herbicides and the aerial application of all pesticides. Over 1,850 people signed the petition. In April, 1977 a state team found evidence of 2,4.5-T and 2,4 -D on vegetation one-half mile to three miles from a Masonite aerial spraying site after Greenwood Ridge residents near Navarro complained of unusual flu-like symptoms following the spraying. A state-appointed Phenoxy Herbicide Investigative team in July, 1977 concluded in a majority report that “no human Illnesses, animal deaths or deformities, plant damage, or environmental damage, could be attributed to or associated with spraying of phenoxy herbicides.” However, a minority report concluded that dosages of pbenoxys may be cumulative (stored in the fatty tissues) and that “it may be wise not to conduct many repeated spray applications over large areas at short intervals.” It further stated that aerial application of phenoxies threatens public health because it is “impossible to confine herbicides to the target area during aerial application on rugged terrain, and because contamination of air and water is unavoidable because drift ts inevitable ” Hit two public members of the 10- wrote the minority In March, 1971 county Agricultural Commissioner Tad Erikaen announced that be would not Issue permits for aerial spraying of pbenoxys lor the* 1978 season because the long term effects of the herbicides were unknown. The timber companies appealed this decision and won the right to spray after the county counsel and timber company representatives settled out of court. During August, 1978 eight county doctors published a notice of intent to circulate initiative petitions to ban all aerial application of phenoxy herbicides and any substance containing dioxin. Among those were Dr. Mark Apfel, chief of staff at Mendocino Community Hospital. By February, 1979, some 7,189 signatures, 5,100 of which were verified, were presented to the county elections clerk for an ordinance to ban aerial spraying of phenoxy herbicides. On March 6, county supervisors held a special public hearing on the proposed herbicide initiative and decided to put it to a vote of the people rather than enact an ordinance implementing the ban. Supervisors had stated their decision partially was based on an attorney ‘general ‘s opinion that the county could not supersede the state in attempts to regulate phenoxy herbicides. MULTI -TECH FINDS SLIGHT TRACES OF HERBICIDES In an attempt to learn bow pervasive traces of 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D and Silvex are in the county, The Journal contacted Bob Harris of Multi -Tech laboratories in Ukiah. Multi-Tech monitors for traces of pesticides following spray operations by timber companies. The company also does bacteria, chemical and pesticide testing for the public health department. According to Harris, “Hundreds of parts per million (ppm). like about 05 ppm, have been found over all of the county. 2,4,5-T, 2,4,-D and Silvex traces have shown up in county ground water but never in a public water system, said Harris. Harris said these fractional traces do not warrent concern. In December, 1978, the California North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board ruled that there should be zero discharge of 2.4.5-T into watersheds. Before delving into the pro and con arguments of the initiative question. The Journal interviewed county public health officer, Craig McMillan, on the public health aspect of the herbtddes, and county agriculture commission Ted Eriksen to determine how these materials are regulated. HEALTH DIRECTOR NOT OPPOSED TO AERIAL BAN McMillan stated that be does not feel “there is any immediate scientific proof of the’ effects of herbicides on people as they are currently used “Basically, I feel if and when the dangers of herbicides comes, it will take forever to ban them and the issue will end up in court,” said McMillan However, McMillan said he is not opposed to the ordinance which deals with aerial application because it has been demonstrated it “is almost impossible to control drift to adjacent property ” McMillan added that he thinks the question of aerial spraying deals with a property right. The county’s public health officer was a member of the state’s Phenoxy Herbicide Investigation Team He said that he sent some of his staff out to Greenwood Ridge to investigate the complaints of flu-like symptoms residents associated with the spraying, but that “the department did not find anything ” “We were trying to find some legitimate evidence of human contamination, but could not get the cooperation of the residents,” said McMillan. He confirmed that dioxin does accumulate in the body but added there is no evidence yet to say whether it can be transmitted to one’s offsprings. PESTICIDE USE RESTRICTIONS Persons wanting to purchase more than one pint of 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D and Silvex must first obtain a permit from the county agriculture department, Eriksen explained. The applicant must state what material be wishes to buy, where it is to be used, including the township, range and base and meridian, how it is to be applied, and for what purpose. That permit then is presented to the pesticide supplier who must keep a record of it in his books. Seven days after the pesticide has been applied, the applicant must file a pesticide use report with the county agriculture department. Ironically, however, Jerry Fetzer, owner of the farm supply, notes that people can go to some large chain stares or nurseries and buy more than one pint without a permit.” 2,4.5-T and Silvex pesticides have been yanked from the store shelves as a result of the EPA ban, however, there are several types of weed and brush killers containing 2,4-D available to the consumer. The amateur can spray bis lawn, poison oak or blackberry bushes without worrying about government regulations He is merely advised to, follow directions on the label. STANDING FIRM — Ukiah firemen get a firm grip on the hose during the Firemen’s Muster competition Saturday hosted by the local department. The second day of competition starts this morning at 10 on S. School Street. RIDING HIGH You can’t afford nosebleeds when you’re riding high on. an old bicycle, as this young lady, a member of The Wheelmen, was doing in Saturday’s parade Warnings on a recently EPA suspended AMCHK.M 2.4.5-TF weed and woody plant herbicide caution the user “DO NOT graze dairy animals on treated areas within six weeks after application DO NOT slaughter meat animals grazing on treated areas within two weeks after, application Avoid spray drift to susceptible plants as this product may injure cotton, beans, tomatoes, tobacco, ornamentals Do not use same spray equipment for other purposes Under very high temperatures of use, vapors from this product may injure susceptible plants in the immediate vicinity This product is TOXIC to fish KEEP OUT of lakes, streams or ponds DO NOT apply when weather conditions favor drift from treated areas. Dispose of liquid wastes in a pit in non-crop lands away from water supplies and not accessible to livestock DO NOT reuse empty containers DESTROY in a safe place. DO NOT BURN. PRO AND CON Supporters of the herbicide spray initiative have pinned most of their arguments in favor of the ban on the possible health hazards to human, animal and fish life Moreover, they have raised the issue of private property rights Core, movement leaders, such as Caspar resident Betty Lou Whaley, cite concerns that the herbicides cause cancer as a main argument for a ban A 32 year old medical technologist from Fort Bragg, who said she was diagnosed as having cancer, said she has been trying to fight the disease by strengthening her immune system She said she fears the pesticide contamination would only hamper her efforts Kathy Bailey, a Greenwood Ridge resident who claims she, her son and her neighbors were poisoned by Masonile’s spraying of 2,4,5-T in 1977, claims “It’s the women of this county who want this law It’s the people who care about the safety of their families who will vote yes on Proposition A.” Local Attorney Barry Vogel, a legal representative of the Citizens Against the Aerial Application of Phenoxy Herbicides, has stated that the issue is health, safety and property rights —not economics. He has said that one concern is that airplanes loaded with herbicides can crash to the ground, spewing their contents every which way Medical doctors, such as Dr Mark Apfel, have stated fears that not enough’ is known about long term effects of herbicides. They look with guarded alarm on reports of high rates of miscarriages and birth defects, such as was reported in Alsea, Oregon and which led to the EPA ban, following spray operations Opponents of the measure, such as the county farm bureau and a hastily organized group called (he No on Proposition A Committee, have attacked the working of the ordinance as being ‘lawyer’s language’ and loo > v 5«5 , a** : , a** ‘-V •’ • .c Journal photos by Dale Kalkm DOIBI.K IMAGKS Balloons gripped tightly in little hands or tied to wrist project their shadows on the pavement as youngsters line the streets during the parade loosely written Marsha Johnson, who took time off from her job with the Cattlemen’s Association in Sacramento to campaign against the measure, said that the term “aerial” is unclear She has stated it could be applied to more than just spraying from airplanes Phil Peterson, a Lousiana-Pacific representative, has said that the proposed ordinance could touch off a whole new chain of regulations — something he contends the industry already has enough ot. Peterson contends the enacment of the ordinance would diminish further the chance of this county maintaining its agricultural economic base. Sterling Norgard, a rancher and “No On A” member, has argued that there are far more chances of people being poisoned by products in their medicine chests or household cleansers. “The amount of dioxin spread over 5,000 acres is equivalent only to one ounce,” argued Norgard Ken Stroh, a Potter Valley rancher, who has used the herbicide, said he is opposed to the ban because he does not have many other alternatives. Georgia-Pacific’s chief forester in Fort Bragg, Jere L. Melo, predicts that without the ability to control brush, timber production will fall quickly by about 30 percent per year “That 1Q percent-plus reduction translates to about 380 direct employment jobs and about $4 6 million in direct payrolls,” he forecast. “I estimate that the loss of county revenue due to lost wood production will be in the neighborhood of $300,000 to $500,000 per year from GP alone, he added. LP has not sprayed so far. Masonite; however, also predicts economic doom, if the initiative passes in terms of lost revenue and production


June 3, 1979 Ukiah Daily Journal

The herbicide question whose right* should prevail?


“We the people of Mendocino County. State of California do ordain as follows…” With this prosaic introduction, the registered voters of Mendocino County ore drawn into the text of what may very well be one of the most controversial and complicated initiatives introduced in thiB county On Tuesday, June 5. Mendocino County voters are being called to the polls to settle the question of whether the aerial application of phenoxy herbicides, including but not limited to 1,4,5-T. 2 ,4D Silvex or any matter containing the chemical dioxin. should be banned The substance of the question, some would have voters believe, is merely an either-or situation vole for poison or vote for profits The reality is that Stripped of media hyped sen sattonaltsm. the question almost reduces to one of rights-property rights, natural right* and constitutionally guaranteed rights Should timber companies, other corporations or perhaps even neighbors be able to spray material* containing alleged poisonous substances on their property even if that spray should drift onto some else’s land or Into someone »’• drinking water’ Should the recipient of the drift have a right to demand that the substance not be sprayed 4 To try to intelligently answer this question voters first should know or have some reasonable doubt that the substance being sprayed is poisonous to humans and animals They also should know in what amounts it is harmful And. the question of dnfl should be answered Unfortunately, no toot proof evidence as to long term effects of 2,4>T and Silvex are available Voters also must weigh the social and health factors involved m the possible long term risks of spraying if they do. indeed, exist, against the possible economic costs of alleged reduced production, and profits and subsequent increased unemployment To help voters m die momentous and time consuming chore r pt sifting through the mound* of information, both pro and con. The Journal has prepared the following report PHESfOSIES— tnUTIHRY %BE USD WHERE VSKO Phenoxy hertondes nave been » pari of forest prarttre* sauce (he fate 1940s, with their uae cocreasmg m recent also are mmt tm roadside tn aetfcVy rtgfct of ways, on ml uw .ttBopfcimls They In fact in 1975. 55 million pounds of 2.4D were dumped on food and feed crops in the United States Phenoxies control broadleaved weeds in wheat, barley, rice, oats, rye conr, grain sorghums and certain legumes In forests, phenoxies control the growth of hardwood trees (such as oak and madrone > and brush so connifers (such as redwood and fir > can achieve a more rapid growth This growth control is achieved by what some experts have said amounts to literally “growing a plant to death Additionally 2 ,4 D and other phenoxies have been used in canals, pnnds. lakes and waterways to kill floating weeds such as water hyacinth, submersed plants such as cattails and willows Industrial and city uses include control of brush on utility and Iran sportation rights of way, control of dandelions, plantains i tropical banana plants) weeds in lawns, poison ivy and other plants of public health tin pnrtance The he’s! known of the phenoxy herbicides are 2,4 D. which is 2,4 Dtchlorophennxyacettc acid. 2,4,5 T which is 2,4.5- Trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, ,2,4 >TP. or silver, which Is 2 12,4,5 Trichlorophenoxy > propionic arid it’onUnuedon P• «e t» OFF TilK SIIKI.F The Amchem 2. 4 5 IV also known as Stivev pictured above is no longer .available on the shell following the K|V\ temporary ban County voters will decide Tuesday whether to place a ban on aerial application of any phenoxy herbicides, those that contain dioxin