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On October 9, 2019, Jefferson County Board of Commissioner Kate Dean spoke at the SSB 5597 Legislative Workgroup meeting:


“Thanks for inviting me, and special thanks to the Suquamish people for sharing their land with us today.


As you know, Counties have little jurisdiction in regulating pesticides. We have plenty of other thorny issues to tackle, so we generally let state and federal agencies do their work.


But this issue was a little different. This past summer, many residents came to the County Commission with concerns about Pope Resources plans to spray herbicides on hundreds of acres. Jefferson County, like many counties, is seeing increased development at the interface with commercial forests. This development includes many drinking water wells. We have hundreds of miles of shorelines and wetlands that we are mandated to protect. And we have a highly aware and engaged environmental community. So the County Commission decided to do some research and take a position.


We don’t pretend to be scientists but we are policy makers who rely on good data to do analysis. We spoke with many of our state agencies, environmental groups, Pope Resources, water quality researchers and other local governments. What we learned is clear as mud, as you well know. That the regulatory frameworks, science and policy options are indeed debated and politicized. And that there is no clear consensus.


So we went with what we do know. The World Health Organization considers glyphosate a probable carcinogen. And as our presenter said this morning, we don’t understand the interaction of all the chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis- air pollution, pesticides, synthetic food additives, heavy metals, chemicals in body care products, cleaning products. We live in a chemical soup with little understanding of how these interact.


And we know that the number of reported cases of inflammatory syndromes and autoimmune diseases are increasing, and that little is understood about how and why this is happening. I’m also not a doctor, so I don’t meant to suggest causation here, but with some cancers and chronic illnesses increasing, I’d suggest that the precautionary principle is in order.


And for the record and as an aside, as an avid bicyclist and electric vehicle advocate, I did suggest that perhaps we should outlaw internal combustion engine cars, as well. This was not a popular idea.


My Board of Commissioners sent a letter to this working group, many of the state agencies represented here today, and Pope Resources. In summary, this letter requested the following:


- That research is conducted on alternatives to using glyphosate and other known carcinogens;


- That best management practices for these alternatives are developed;


- That a simple water quality monitoring protocol be implemented so that local governments can be tracking impacts and incidence of pesticides, particularly given the gap in information regarding impacts to the shellfish industry, which is very important in this region;


- That public notification be required before spraying herbicides;


- That aerial spraying is prohibited due to its potential for imprecise application.


To be clear, we value forestry as a critical component of our economy, culture, and environment. But we live in changing communities and landscapes. As more people are pushed out to rural regions, compatibility issues will arise. While governments will use land use to minimize incompatibility, the forestry industry (just like government and every other sector) will need to modernize methods to manage this changing landscape.


Being in the business of thorny issues, I have a few litmus tests that I use to inform policy decisions I need to make. And one is the test of time. How will we look back on this time and this decision? What decision will put us on the “right side of history”?


While synthetic chemicals have improved productivity and efficiency since we began our love affair with them following World War II, they are not without harm. We are in an adolescent phase of embracing them without truly acknowledging the potential cumulative and long-term impacts. I suggest that given the viable alternatives to aerial spraying, including manual control and backpack spraying, which are commonly used in commercial forestry already, that aerial spraying of known and suggested carcinogens will not stand the test of time. That we will look back on this practice, as we do spraying worlds fair goers with DDT or burying thousands of tons of industrial toxins near residences in Love Canal.


Thank you all for taking on this challenging issue. It is heartening to see policy being considered thoughtfully and with many perspectives represented. Please consider local governments as stakeholders as we are often literally at the interface we are discussing here today. I’m happy to answer questions today or be a resource in the future.”


And thank you, Commissioner Dean.

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We had a great experience at the Herbicide Educational Forum last Thursday (9/26), and a few surprises! First, a big THANK YOU to our courageous presenters:


Coca Sanchez... an organic landscaper who reminded us to think differently about weeds and showed us how to use healthier herbicides. Margaret Tufft, Tom DeBor and Carol Price... from the Kitsap Environmental Coalition, told us about the energy they have put toward defending their County from aerial herbicide application. Go KEC! Joost Besijn... from The Noxious Weed Control Board, told us about their struggle to control invasive species such as knotweed and canary reed grass. Al Latham... from The Jefferson Conservation District, told us about the history of the JCD and of its efforts over the years of restoring wetlands and reforestation. Malloree Weinheimer... from Chickadee Forestry, gave us the low down on forestry without chemical herbicides, and how we can change our habits as consumers to bend the industry toward healthier practices. Richard Lewis... Entomologist and big-picture thinker, who is applying his scientific background with his humanity, and stressed the importance for all of us to take climate change and species loss very, very seriously. Mike McClure... a retired PUD #1 Supervisor and Manager for more than 24 years, told us about his experience with keeping our waters clean in this beautiful and complex environment. Barbara Foster... supplied the movie, "Behind the Emerald Curtain" and meeter and greeter. Thanks Barbara! And thank you to our other volunteers and coordinators... 💜


And for our surprises...

We have been approached to take on another Conservation Emergency... stay tuned! (Don't worry, we will be continuing on this journey as well. Please contact us if you would like to be a part of it.

Malloree Weinheimer, Chickadee Forestry



The biggest thing I noticed... which happened throughout the entire evening, but especially when we opened the mic up for intros... There is a huge desire to work together for this environment. Everyone who showed up, presenters and a few of our participants, engaged in a discussion about how we can make this a healthier environment. All of our presenters are specialists, and don't get much opportunity to collaborate with other specialists. Wendi and I really felt the Hive Mind buzzing. We see this as a place where our organization can really be helpful: strengthening the public voice for the environment's well-being by creating a place where all of our experienced practitioners can come together to cure the diseases that plague us. Like an integrated health care team...(Sorry, my medical side is coming out.) It was a great thing to hear everyone in a respectful discourse. We can do it!


Another surprise were visits from two of our County Commissioners, Kate Dean and Greg Brotherton. Thank you!


And we did have a couple of infiltrators... Welcome! I hope you were able to learn something.


our best to you,

Jessica and Wendi

ecc-pnw.org


P.S. I think our "Donate" button is finally working on our website (ecc-pnw.org). 😉

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Updated: Sep 5, 2019


Wait a sec! What’s the difference between the two?


My son, who learned it in his Environmental Studies class, described this to me. First, conservationists protect the natural world in order to maintain their human interests. They are more concerned about protecting nature’s use. For example, “Let’s not kill all of the elk in the Olympic Peninsula because we like to hunt them in November.” Preservationists protect the natural world because of its innate right to survive and thrive. They protect nature from use, rather than for use. For example, “Let’s not kill all of the elk because they have a right to live and a role in the ecosystem that is more important than my entertainment needs.”


The Olympic Peninsula is built largely on conservation, rather than preservation. Each political battle won by environmentalists to preserve what is now the Olympic National Park, was largely done through the arguments of conservation. It was simply the only way to influence politicians to side with nature instead of industry. We have a handful of conservationist presidents. The ones directly responsible for the Olympic National Park are Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. One of America’s most famous preservationists was John Muir, a large protector of Yosemite and other natural areas. Most environmentalists will first define themselves as conservationists, but on deeper reflection and further education, they find themselves leaning more toward preservation. I believe that conservation is now the same as preservation. I’ll explain.


Times are a-changing. Our natural world is suffering a little more each day. Species are going extinct, the sea is rising and the pH is dropping. We have learned a lot about the long-term negative effects of our lifestyle and behaviors: pollution, over-harvesting, the use of pesticides and herbicides, and so on. We have also learned a lot about the interconnectedness of our environment and the need for diversity. As we have grown into a society where the needs of industry outweigh the needs of nature, the result has brought us to the brink of environmental collapse. And as the environment collapses, we suffer with it. In other words, conservation is preservation.


The environmental movement is taking this concept into the form of “The Rights of Nature”. We are evolving our legislation to protect the bigger picture, to protect nature, which in turn will protect our species. “Rights of Nature is the recognition and honoring that Nature has rights. It is the recognition that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. Rights of Nature is about balancing what is good for human beings against what is good for other species, what is good for the planet as a world. It is the holistic recognition that all life, all ecosystems on our planet are deeply intertwined.” This is the opening statement of The Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature. In the United States, we take rights very seriously, and unfortunately very slowly: first human rights, then corporate rights, and now the rights of nature. This movement will need to happen quickly to save our planet. We’re all in this together.


Thanks for being here.


~ Jessica Randall


References

https://www.noaa.gov/education/resource-collections/ocean-coasts-education-resources/ocean-acidification

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_National_Park

https://www.biography.com/scholar/john-muir

https://therightsofnature.org/what-is-rights-of-nature/

https://depts.washington.edu/cspn/resources/resources-links/


Lien, Carsten (1991) Olympic Battleground: The Power Politics of Timber Preservation. San Francisco: Random House

Wohlleben, Peter (2019) The Secret Wisdom of Nature: Trees, Animals, and the Extraordinary Balance of All Living Things ― Stories from Science and Observation (The Mysteries of Nature Trilogy). Published in partnership with the David Suzuki Institute

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