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Tussock Moth lawsuit victory means finally aerial spraying controls in place

Circuit Court Finds Forest Service Tussock Moth Spray Proposal Illegal. Conservationists say bug attack failed to materialize

This latest and broadest-reaching landmark victory by the Lands Council and League of Wilderness Defenders- Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project may protect tons of National Forests, and many other areas affected by aerial spraying of pesticides or herbicides now and in the future. Many areas may be saved from deadly areal poisoning.
For Immediate Release: November 8, 2002 Contacts: --George Wooten, Methow Field Specialist, 509-996-3835 --Asante Riverwind, League Of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, 541-468-2305, 541-617-1009 --Mike Peterson, The Lands Council, 509-838-4912

Circuit Court Finds Forest Service Tussock Moth Spray Proposal Illegal. Conservationists say bug attack failed to materialize

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has concluded that the US Forest Service must obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit (NPDES) before it resumes aerial spraying of Bacillus thuringensis to control tussock moths in national forests in the Pacific Northwest. Such permits are required by the Clean Water Act before discharging pollutants from any "point source" into navigable waters of the United States.
Appellants in the case-League Of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project, Kettle Range Conservation Group (KRCG), The Lands Council, Hells Canyon Preservation Council, Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, Oregon Natural Resources Council, and American Lands-had challenged the Forest Service's decision that an NPDES permit was not required. The Forest Service maintained that spraying pesticides from an aircraft did not constitute a "point source" pollution, which is defined as a "discernible, confined and discrete conveyance," such as a pipe or ditch.
The court sided with the appellants, ruling that an airplane fitted with tanks and mechanical spraying apparatus met the definition, and that "the Forest Service cannot contravene the will of Congress through its reading of administrative regulations." "The reckless days of spraying insecticides over forests and water may well be over," said Mike Peterson, Executive Director of The Lands Council. In the November 4th ruling, the court also determined that the Forest Service's analysis of environmental impacts related to the spraying failed to meet the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Judge Dorothy Nelson cited contradictions in Forest Service documents and the agency's failure to analyze how far the pesticide might drift, in what direction, or of the effect of spraying or not spraying at different wind speeds as the foundation for her opinions regarding the analysis.

The Forest Service predicted an outbreak of tussock moths in years 2000-2002 and designed the spraying program to prevent what the agency predicted would constitute unacceptable levels of damage to trees in the National Forest. The predicted outbreak did not occur. "Just as in the case of the alleged 2000 Douglas fir bark beetle outbreak, the Forest Service estimated tussock moths would destroy forests across the region," said David Heflick, Director of KRCG's Forest and Rivers Program. "In both cases the courts found such decisions to be based on faulty analysis and therefore unlawful, and in both cases the projected insect attacks never materialized."

"Tussock moths are natural predators," said George Wooten, KRCG botanist. "Their populations rise and fall in cycles of over a decade. Spraying BTk kills not only the tussock moths, but [all] other moths and butterflies as well." "Rare endemic forest dependent butterflies have been spared thanks to this court decision, as have numerous other species throughout the forests," said Asante Riverwind, League Of Wilderness Defenders-Blue Mountains Biodiversity Project. "Biocides such as BTk should never be used so widely or foolishly as the Forest Service proposed to do." Appellants were represented by the legal team of Marianne Dugan, Brent Foster and Lauren Regan.
BTK spraying halted in B.C. 27.Nov.2002 14:58


BTK Biocide Victory
UPdate Spring 1996

Province halts plan to spray moth pesticide: Agriculture Canada will not be allowed to use BTK in New Westminster because of worries about human health and safety.: Foes relieved

A federal-government plan to kill gypsy moths by spraying pesticide on 20 hectares of New Westminster has been halted by the province's environmental appeal board. The board ruled that the potential risks to people and the environment from spraying BTK outweigh any expected benefits the program might have in getting rid of the gypsy moth. Agriculture Canada has claimed that BTK - a biological agent - poses no danger to people, pets or other animals.

It has been spraying various parts of the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria for 10 years to fight the moth. In most of those cases, the spraying was opposed by residents. But until now, the appeal board overruled their objections. In this week's decision, panel chair Judith Lee wrote that there is "evidence that BTK use will have some adverse effect and some risk." She noted that both those opposing the spraying and Agriculture Canada referred to studies showing that some people, when exposed to the spray, reported symptoms "such as dry, itchy skin; red, burning eyes; dry, sore throat; cough and tightness in the chest particularly where there was a prior history of allergies." Lee also noted that published studies on BTK deal mainly with its short-term effects: "They show no adverse effects. However, there are almost no studies on long-term effects."

The other main reason for the panel's decision, she wrote, is that the government's spraying program was unlikely to achieve its goal of getting rid of the gypsy moth. The evidence shows that using BTK ground spray will not effectively treat the area and eradicate the gypsy moth, partly because not all properties in the area were to be sprayed and partly because the spray was unlikely to reach eggs in the upper parts of trees, she wrote.

Monika Auger, one of the residents opposing the spraying in the Sapperton area of New Westminster, welcomed the board's decision, adding that the use of pesticides to kill harmful insects should be eliminated altogether and traps used instead. Auger said she and her neighbors are particularly relieved by the board's decision because there is an elementary school in the spraying area.

Jon Bell, regional biologist for Agriculture Canada, said he was disappointed with the decision, adding that the department is now investigating alternatives to spraying. "I find the decision disturbing because it is not very science-based," he said. One of the alternatives the department may examine is setting more traps to catch the moth. "We are still in the business of gypsy moth control," Bell said. He added that it would be necessary to put out nine insect traps per acre (about 20 per hectare) to hope to get the male moths before they have an opportunity to mate with the females.

Bell reiterated the danger the gypsy moth poses to B.C.'s forests, saying it is important to deal with outbreaks of the pest before they become established. In the caterpillar stage, the gypsy moth is a voracious feeder and whole forests in the east have been destroyed by it, Bell said. Last year, the department found eight gypsy moths in a trap near Devoy Street and East 8th Avenue in New Westminster. Moths were also found in traps near Hope, where a plan for aerially spraying a forest is still going ahead.

For more information on the specific B.C. situation, see the excellent publication prepared by Diane Wharton, July 1995, revised edition, Our Case Against Moth Spraying, by the Society Targeting Overuse of Pesticides. To obtain this B.C. publication write to STOP, Box 37007, 2930 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver, B.C. V7N 4M0. Telephone/fax: 604 980-1860.

photo for feature 27.Nov.2002 15:02

pdx indy graphics drone #6082

photo for feature
photo for feature

great site on Btk and other poisons 27.Nov.2002 15:13



NoSprayZone (NSZ) is a community-based citizen's group dedicated to ecologically sound pest management practices that do not compromise public health.

We are a nonprofit organization run by volunteers - there is no paid staff.

How We Began

NSZ was formed in March of 2000, when the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) decided to spray insecticide on a square mile covering Ballard, Magnolia, and Salmon Bay. The spraying was to eliminate a supposed invasion of Asian gypsy moths that the WSDA claimed would rapidly spread if unchecked and destroy Washington's forests.

After a little investigation, it turned out that

* WSDA had only trapped one moth.
* No one has ever determined if the Asian Gypsy Moth can even live in North America, let alone eat forests.
* The insecticide that would be sprayed by helicopter 3 times over 50,000 people was not as safe as WSDA claimed.

WSDA had apparently engaged in a deliberate attempt to mislead and keep the public out of the process.
Angry citizens decided to do something about this disregard for our health and safety, and began meeting in living rooms.