PG&E plans to spray herbicides on hundreds of private plots throughout Humboldt County
Story shared with us by KMUD News. Our teams cooperate because we believe our community is stronger when we all work together.
On Thursday, September 29, Humboldt County officials were alerted to PG&E’s plan to apply a series of herbicides to hundreds of private plots throughout the county – Benbow in Trinidad, Alderpoint in Petrolia and Willow Creek in Orick. PG&E contractors intend to spray herbicides within 11 feet of PG&E infrastructure on properties owned by landowners who, for the most part, are not yet aware of the planned spraying. Work should begin on Monday, October 3.
PG&E contractor Wright Tree Service emailed local officials saying they would refrain from spraying county property due to a 1997 agreement, but would continue to contact local landowners whose properties are slated for herbicide treatment. Under the county-issued permit, contractors will be allowed to use four different herbicides, which include up to 64 ounces of Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide, per acre…which equates to about 2 ounces per ten utility poles. , according to their Figures. [Click here for a pdf showing information on the spray.]
Wright Tree Service sent a map outlining planned areas for herbicide spraying.
KMUD News reached out to a local landowner whose property had been pinned on the map. The site is home to an organic flower business, Tranquility Lane Flowers, in Whitethorn. The landowner, Donna Lovato, was surprised and outraged to learn that her property had been selected for herbicide treatment. She cited concerns about their organic farm and the sensitive watershed that provides refuge for an endangered salmon species.
Lovatto was under the impression that Humboldt County had banned herbicides. She recalled a 1997 agreement. Upon further review, KMUD News was able to determine that there had never been a ban in place, instead an agreement existed between the county and Caltrans (which, at at the time, was spraying herbicides on the fly along the roads) to “stop all spraying of herbicides”. .”
Weylan Shaw, Acting Commissioner of Agriculture/Sealer of Weights and Measures for Humboldt County, agreed with our interpretation of the document. Shaw said his department is in contact with PG&E’s “pest control expert” and has extended the services of his office to answer questions from the public. His office is available Monday through Friday at (707) 441-5260
Seeking additional information, KMUD News contacted PG&E spokeswoman Deanna Contreras, who sent the following:
Herbicide applications are to begin Monday, October 3.
Listen to the KMUD News story here:
Note: The feature image in this article uses a compilation of a screenshot of the Wright Tree Service map and a PG&E file photo of their contractors.