It's another disaster

  I am glad to see HCN finally writing about the BLM's plan to aerial spray nearly 1 million acres of public land annually for the purpose of controlling invasive plants (HCN, 9/3/07)

The West is a storybook of public-land calamities and this is yet another. Most of these have been foisted upon us by public agencies with good intentions. Environmental catastrophes range from dams that depleted salmon runs to introduced grasses to managing grazing and forests inappropriately. The list is endless.

The BLM environmental impact statement claims there will be no notable impacts, but this cannot possibly be true. Herbicides will fall on wildlife of all kinds and be washed into streams, ponds and ephemeral water holes. Downstream communities will drink water containing these poisons. Did you know that a frog raised in water containing only 1 part per billion of atrazine, a commonly used herbicide, will grow both male and female sex organs? Does that sound desirable?

In the Midwest, where herbicides are commonplace, it has become clear that indirect exposure to herbicides causes lymphoma. Particularly vulnerable are unborn children, in whom the impacts aren't seen for decades. Likewise, the unforeseen consequences of aerial spraying our Western lands won't be seen or understood for decades.

Weeds are an unfortunate and serious problem, but they are also a fact of life. I have come to the conclusion that these invasions must be accepted and adapted to. The BLM is naive to think it can implement this action with no discernable impact. They are about to poison huge portions of the West and this cannot be done without affecting all of us who live here.

The biggest threat to the environment is the human ego. This is yet one more example of man thinking he has the wherewithal to do something when he does not. When will we learn to leave well enough alone?

Jim McMahon
Brookside, Utah