Thursday, July 31, 2014

The board heard a presentation on the county Public Works Department's roadside vegetation management program and how the department makes decisions about whether or not to use a herbicide spray or mechanical means to remove weeds. Public Works Director Ed Wegner and consultant John Van Staveren of Pacific Habitat Services Inc. described how the policy, first adopted in 2006, guides the department in balancing mowing and spraying to control roadside weeds and vegetation to preserve road surfaces and shoulders and maintain visibility with the least environmental impacts. In response to a commissioner question Wegner said the department reviews it's use of specific herbicides each year as new products become available that might be even less harmful to the environment and non targeted species.  Wegner admitted that the herbicides in use by the county today are less effective than the harsher chemicals that were once common but todays herbicides can be used without endangering aquatic species and with a good application the chemical eventually gets the job done.

Property owners on county roads can request that no sprays be used along their land if they agree to control the vegetation themselves on their section of the road right-of-way, Wegner said. About 75 property owners are currently in the no-spray program. There is an application process involved to qualify for the no spray program, a property owner can't just put out their own "No Spray" signs.  In fact, Wegner told the commission that he tasks the same personnel that will be operating sprayers to post those signs as there is a better chance they will remember where they need to shut the sprayer off when doing the work.  More information about the program along with an updated "no spray" application will be put up on the county website after Commissioner Birkby suggested the idea would make the program more accessable for the public.

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