News - November 23, 2011

Caltrans spraying herbicides along Hwy. 84

by Barbara Wood

Despite vociferous protests by county residents, requests by county officials and warnings from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the California Department of Transportation was spraying herbicides along Highway 84/La Honda Road early this week, according to local residents.

Patty Mayall of La Honda says she was informed by Caltrans that the spraying was taking place on Monday, Nov. 21, despite a weekend of rain and more in the forecast. Residents and water quality experts worry that wet conditions will send the toxic herbicides into water supplies. Caltrans officials have not returned emails or calls from the Almanac asking for comment on the spraying.

Ms. Mayall was originally told on Tuesday, Nov. 15, that Caltrans would be spraying on Friday, Nov. 18, with the chemicals Milestone VM and Payload, along Hwy. 84 from the coast to Skyline Boulevard.

"I don't consider this proper notification," Ms. Mayall said. "It's wrong that we're given two days. We need an on-road notification policy as part of our integrated pest management for this county."

Brendan Thompson, an environmental specialist with the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, said in an email that he has asked Caltrans to postpone the spraying, both because rain was forecast and because the county report on vegetation management is due out Nov. 23.

County Environmental Health Director Dean Peterson said in an email that he had also asked Caltrans to wait until a county study on alternatives to spraying has been considered.

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