Kelly SullivanA Snohomish County environmental group is working to alert residents to the hazards of aerial spraying in the Sky Valley.
The Skykomish Valley Environmental and Economic Alliance (SVENA), which is one of the three organizations that worked to halt the Singletary Sale this year, has posted a petition addressing timber companies and the Washington Department of Natural Resources. It asks that alternatives to dropping pesticides on tree farms be used along the U.S. Highway 2 corridor.
Applications for swaths of land near Monroe, Sultan, Gold Bar and Granite Falls targeted this fall were sent to and approved by the DNR this summer. SVENA has posted each document on its website. The website also has viewable applications going back to 2015.
While it varies who sprays per year, this season California-based Sierra Pacific Industries, the second largest lumber producer in the U.S., and Seattle-based Weyerhaeuser Company, one of the largest lumber producers in the world, sent in applications this season.
According to Weyerhaeuser, the company started the first U.S. tree farm, which are privately owned and managed forests, in 1941. Around 950 acres in the Sky Valley and nearly 910 acres near Granite Falls were scheduled for the treatments, according to the applications.
Resident Diane Hardee has owned property in the Sky Valley since 1981, and got involved with SVENA during its formation in 2015. She said she’s had concerns about aerial spraying in the area for decades, especially because the chemicals can drift.
In the past, Hardee said she has been able to develop relationships with staff at timber companies, who would alert her to the dates that pesticides would be dropped three days to two weeks in advance, which would be optimal — knowing that it could change due to factors such as weather. She said knowing ahead of time gives residents a chance to prepare themselves and their properties as much as possible.
“There’s a limit to what you can do,” she said. “You can’t bring your apple trees inside, but you can bring your pets and your kids inside, or you can leave the area.”
SVENA president and Sky Valley resident Inessa Pearce writes in her letter about the petition that she was exposed to the pesticides last year as she tried to herd her pets inside. She said she lost skin on her face and ears from being burned.
SVENA also has posted a list of the most likely active ingredients used in Weyerhaueser’s 2016 spraying in the Skykomish River Valley.
The chemical glyphosate, used in Roundup, is “linked with increased risks of the cancer non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, miscarriages, and attention deficit disorder,” according to Weyerhaeuser’s fact sheet, which was included in the document. It “can reduce production of sex hormones,” and “can commonly drift and contaminate water.”
SVENA suggests timber corporations spot spray smaller amounts of land and plan clear cutting and replanting, so the need to control competing vegetation is minimized, or letting a diversity of vegetation grow instead of using chemicals.
More than 250 people have signed the petition so far, including the Pilchuck Audubon Society on behalf of its 1,400 members and the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides on its of their 14,000 members.
The document is still open for anyone wishing to participate. For more information or to sign the petition visit svena.org.Photo by Kelly Sullivan: SVENA has started a petition against the aerial spraying of tree farms in the Skykomish River Valley.