Caltrans delays spraying of herbicides on roadsides until March 10

Residents want Caltrans to honor county's spray ban

Spraying herbicides along Highway 84 west of Skyline Boulevard, which was to have begun March 3, has been postponed and will now take place on two Tuesdays -- March 10 and March 17, according to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

The office of Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, said the spraying was postponed while Caltrans meets with the Regional Water Control Board.

Caltrans spokeswoman Gidget Navarro said Caltrans will spray the herbicides Milestone, EsplAnade 200SC and Matrix SG between Skyline Boulevard and Stage Road, about one mile east of Highway 1, on the westbound side of 84 (also known as La Honda Road), with no spraying between Hildebrand and Pescadero roads.

Local residents have protested the spraying, asking Caltrans to honor the county's 2012 ban on broadcast spraying of herbicides.

If Caltrans must spray, residents want advance notice, including notice on the streets to be sprayed so local residents can keep animals inside, and cyclists and others can avoid the areas.

Residents asked for the postponement because some herbicides should not be sprayed within three days of rainfall.

In 2012, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors banned broadcast spraying of herbicides everywhere in the county except at its two airports. But the county has no authority over Caltrans. Although Caltrans has stopped spraying herbicides in other counties when asked to do so, the agency continues to spray herbicides alongside its highways in San Mateo County.

"During a routine inspection, Caltrans deemed spraying is necessary for safety measures, such as clearing weeds around signs and guardrails, sight distance, establishing fire strips and (to kill) invasive plants and species that maintenance is not able to control by any other means," Ms. Navarro said.

She said Scotch broom has "encroached the travel way, which creates a safety hazard for motorists." Ms. Navarro promised crews will not spray in driveways, creeks or near groups of mailboxes, or within 50 feet of any creeks or rivers.

Ms. Navarro also said Caltrans will not spray in La Honda or San Gregorio, or on properties that have posted "No Spray" signs.

Local residents were also upset after Caltrans recently sprayed herbicides along Skyline Boulevard (also known as Highway 35) without any notice. After San Mateo County banned broadcast herbicide spraying in 2012, Ms. Navarro promised that the agency would not spray unless it had to, and would not do so without prior notice.

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Like this comment
Posted by concerned
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 5, 2015 at 3:50 pm

I am very grateful to the Almanac and this reporter for putting this important issue on the news.
It is a real disgrace that the beautiful, nature- and wildlife-rich scenic corridors of Highway 84 and 35 have to be subjected to indiscriminate chemical spraying by agencies like CalTrans because they deem it a convenient way to control vegetation. It is specially worrisome because this area happens to be an important watershed for the whole mountain region. Poisoning water should be a crime.

Local residents have been imploring for years for this to stop, but CalTrans refuses to listen, sending "information officers" to deal with any communication. Those with any authority or responsibility for this are hiding in their offices and refusing to give their names or show their faces.

At the very least residents and visiting motorist should be forewarned when they will be spraying these poisons are all over the land, and what they are (they use several, not just Roundup), so we know to stay indoors, take precautions or not open our car windows.

Thank you again to the Almanac for their coverage of this. NBC local news also did a story on it last week.

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