Caltrans cancels second herbicide spray date on Highway 84

Agency says it won't spray next week as planned

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), which had said it would spray herbicides along Highway 84 west of Skyline Boulevard on March 17 and March 24, now says the job was completed in one day and has cancelled the second spray date.

Caltrans spokesperson Allyn Amsk said on March 19, "herbicide spraying was completed on Tuesday."

Caltrans had said it planned to spray 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, who have formed a group called "Protect Our Watershed," have protested Caltrans' spraying, saying they fear it will pollute local water sources and harm the health of local residents and others who use the roads, such as cyclists, and animals who come in contact with the spray.

They have asked Caltrans to honor San Mateo County's 2012 ban of broadcast spraying of herbicides everywhere on county property except at its two airports.

The group has a petition at, which had 233 signatures as of March 19.

Caltrans spokeswoman Gidget Navarro earlier said the herbicide spraying takes place only once a year. She issued a statement from Caltrans saying the state agency would continue spraying because Caltrans could not safely mow the weeds that needed to be removed for safety purposes.

Caltrans does not spray herbicides in several other counties where it had been asked to use alternative weed removal methods.

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2 people like this
Posted by local resident
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 20, 2015 at 12:41 am

I hope many of us will sign this petition and make CalTrans stop this extremely toxic and dangerous practice.
It is time to mow, go back to simple basics and stay well away from chemicals and fancy broadcast spraying trucks.
Thank you to Barbara Wood and The Almanac for keeping this issue on the news.

1 person likes this
Posted by oakleaf
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Mar 20, 2015 at 8:06 am

oakleaf is a registered user.

Thank you for continuing to cover this issue. It is astounding to me that Caltrans is not listening to the residents of this area nor the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors who banned broadcast spraying in 2012. Caltrans claims mowing is not possible since they cannot unload equipment in our area, which is just not true. I see them unloading equipment frequently up here to work on the roads. I don't know why they value the health and watershed of the northern counties more than ours. They respect the ban on broadcast spraying in Marin and other places. Maybe our cancer rates just need to rival those of Marin before they will listen to us. I hope we don't have to strive for that goal.

We do not want these chemicals in our water nor in our soil. We don't want it in our gardens. We don't want our animals and our children drinking it. We depend on wells, creeks and small reservoirs for our drinking water. Milestone (one of the toxins Caltrans states they are spraying) has a half life of 990 days in water. That's almost three years to continue killing and poisoning us, our vegetation and our wildlife.

Caltrans PLEASE stop this insanity! Just mow alongside the roads.

Like this comment
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Mar 22, 2015 at 10:36 am

MY husband and I are concerned about our watershed much more than the weeds along our roads. Mowing the roadsides along should suffice. If drivers would slow down and pay attention .....then our roads would be safer.
Protect our environment....its the only one we've got....once its gone you can't get it back.

Like this comment
Posted by Novaks47
a resident of Woodside: other
on Apr 16, 2015 at 11:56 am

You people are nuts. Killing people and animals? Where's the evidence of this? They've been spraying these roads for over 50 years, if there was a problem, we should be seeing it by now. And back in the 60's and 70's, they were using far more toxic stuff than today. Sure, it sounds nice and feels good to chant "no more toxic evil chemicals in our water!", but in reality, the hazard doesn't exist. They spray in the summer, so there's no rain washing the stuff into the creek, so how exactly is it getting into the water table? It's not. When you spray weeds, does all the surrounding wildlife suddenly start dying off? Of course not! This is no different. They're not drenching the ground in the stuff, they're spraying a fine mist on the offending weeds. This is the most time and money efficient way to deal with the weeds. If you'd rather them clog the road for two weeks, and spends tons of tax money doing it manually, they by all means, ditch the chemicals.

As a commuter on 84, I'd rather not have all that grass and weeds alongside the road, attracting deer and other road hazards. Careful driving only gets you so much, and does nothing for you when a deer catapults itself in front of you giving you all of 3 feet to stop.

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Novaks47 you are quite wrong. First of all, they spray in the Spring (and if you'd been actually following this story you'd know that they have already cancelled scheduled spraying twice due to the controversy and it's only the middle of April.)

Secondly, how many people in La Honda do you know who have had different forms of cancer? How about ALS?

And this is not the most efficient way to deal with the weeds. Mowing is more efficient because after they spray, you just have a lot of dead weeds instead of a lot of live weeds, still blocking sightlines and clogging the edges of the roads.

I don't think its the other posters who are "nuts."

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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