County stops broadcast herbicide spraying
San Mateo County will stop the broadcast roadside spraying of herbicides while it waits to hear from consultants about other ways to control the weeds that grow along the county's roadsides and in its parks.
On July 26, county supervisors Don Horsley and Dave Pine, the two members of the Board of Supervisors' Environmental Quality Committee, authorized spending up to $25,000 to hire consultants, including a biologist and an expert in integrated pest management. The consultants will look at how the county can control weeds using as few chemicals as possible.
Until that report comes back, the two supervisors asked that all broadcast spraying be stopped.
Last June the Board of Supervisors voted to try to reduce the use of pesticides (herbicides are considered a pesticide as the plants they kill are unwanted) by using integrated pest management techniques in all county operations. They cited concerns about water quality and the effects on wildlife, including some endangered species.
A plan to phase out the use of herbicides and move toward mowing only over a period of 10 years was suggested. But residents of unincorporated county areas where broadcast spraying takes place protested that 10 years was too long too wait. The July 26 action came in response to those complaints.
Patty Mayall, a resident of La Honda who has been fighting herbicide spraying for years, said supervisors Pine and Horsley have been very supportive. "I was so grateful for their comments at the meeting," she said. "They are listening to the community and responding to our concerns about our own health and the health of our water sources."
Ms. Mayall said the news may be even better than it appears. The California Department of Transportation, which manages the vegetation along state roads, including Highway 84 (Woodside/La Honda Road) and Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard), has promised that if the county stops spraying herbicides, CalTrans will also stop its spraying program as it has in other places such as Marin County where herbicide spraying has been phased out, she said.