By Kiera Morgan
The Newport City council heard in a public hearing from many who spoke about ballot measure 21-177, which would ban aerial spraying on forestlands. Those who spoke in favor of the measure pointed out the chemicals are a health threat as they can be spread by wind beyond target areas.
Foresters pointed out that spraying is usually performed in the early morning or late in the day when winds are at their lowest. Supporters also said the chemicals can get into small rivers and streams that feed larger creeks and rivers from which cities and counties draw their drinking water. Those in favor of the measure maintain that manual application of herbicides on the ground would be far safer and would create weeding jobs.
Those opposed to the ban pointed out it’s not as efficient and can be very hazardous in the coastal range with it’s steep terrain. Others added that if aerial spraying went away, so would a lot of logging jobs which would hurt local economies. Something councilor Sawyer said he felt it would be difficult to find people to do weeding jobs. “There are several small businesses who are hiring right now and can’t find enough people to work.”
Sawyer also was concerned that passage of the measure may hurt sales of wood products. “I just built a shed this past summer, studs were about $3 each, and if these forest products don’t make it to market, I just don’t know what the local contractors are going to be building with.”
After hearing the public testimony and reviewing the ballot measure, like the County Commissioners the Newport Council, except Wendy Engler, passed a resolution opposing measure 21-177. The council felt that the measure is poorly written and is too broad on many terms and not specific enough with explanations to support.