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Fight Continues Regarding Spraying At Beaver Creek

A private timberland owner has notified the requisite state agencies of his plan to aerially spray 473 acres of clear cut forest over the Beaver Creek watershed in Lincoln County with a chemical cocktail containing glyphosate also known as Round Up. Glyphosate has been known to cause multiple types of cancers and is the subject of upwards of 100,000 lawsuits against Monsanto / Bayer. 100% of the water from the Seal Rock Water District (SRWD) comes from Beaver Creek. SRWD supplies water to about 5,500 customers. The permit, legally allowing the spray, is active starting early September and is good for 90 days from the start date.

In 2017 Measure 21-177, a county-wide ban on aerially sprayed pesticides was made law by the voters of Lincoln County. Though understood by a number of governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as a large percentage of the general public in Lincoln County and elsewhere in Oregon of both the dangers and impacts of pesticides as well the aerial application, the state continues to legalize both the use of toxic pesticides and aerial application. Shortly after the adoption of the county law, which also protected the rights of ecosystems from harm which would’ve included Beaver Creek, a lawsuit was filed by timber interests, despite the democratic enactment of the law.

After 29 months the law was overturned by a circuit court judge, which was upheld by the court of appeals, based on what is called state preemption of pesticide law, despite the vote of the people. State preemption, or more specifically state ceiling preemption, disallows local jurisdictions the authority to regulate or prohibit activities even where it comes to public and environmental health. County and state elected officials as well as state agencies have all stated that this spraying is legal and meets all state requirements for pesticide application. They all agree that the decision to spray or not to spray rests solely with the landowner.

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners wrote a letter to the land owner, “Oregon law makes the decision to spray or not to spray yours. Your ownership of our precious natural resources also comes with a clear ethical, if not legal, obligation to protect them. We urge you to seek alternative means to control unwanted vegetation.” Local residents and allies from across the county and outside of the county have been calling the impending spray into question as well as mobilizing on their options to stop it. A principal question that has come up in public meetings has been why isn’t there the legal authority to stop the spray.

Connected to that questioning and growing outrage is the realization that a single landowner, one who is living overseas, can have more rights to spray and log than the community to prohibit each in defense of public and environmental health. The residents of Beaver Creek are currently creating a GoFundMe page to raise awareness and mount a challenge to this spray event which stands to affect the lives of all residents, humans, wildlife and their watershed for decades. The local group has also started a website.

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