After many years as an “eco-warrior” in Lane County, I moved to Portland to retire and write my book. Of course I haven’t done either so far, as environmental issues keep calling me. (I guess it is a calling.)
Currently, my organization Save Our ecoSystems inc (SOS), and several other groups and individuals throughout Oregon, have appealed a huge and very dangerous plan by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) or Bureau for Bad Land Management, if you like.
Back in the 80′s, SOS and several other organizations won injunctions against BLM spray programs. One went all the way to the Supreme Court, followed by an order from the Departments of the Interior and of Agriculture to cease and desist spraying the public forests–period. There had been widespread revelation by the people, and by scientists, that were making headlines–the herbicides were putting both animals and people at risk for birth defects, contaminating waters, animals, fish and breast milk, plus a long list of threats to wildlife and all living beings. I, for example, became a diabetic for life, like so many of the Vietnam Veterans. It was heartbreaking to watch our young farm animals die, despite the best of care, and to see baby goats born with birth defects. They were spraying Agent Orange in forest operations behind our farm.
The federal agencies were finally forced to stop spraying the public forests, although it has continued unabated in the private forests, exposing the entire environment in those areas. Unfortunately the BLM has changed its focus from silvaculture to plants and now proposes to put us through this all over again. They have been part of a growing determination to eradicate the “invasives,” the “noxious,” and even some of the native plants. And so, they have formed an alliance with many members of the environmental community in a pseudoscientific determination that these plants must be eradicated, I feel this is counter-evolution, and counter-intuitive. BLM is back again with its spray guns and helicopters, and its arsenal of toxic herbicides. What happened to all those injunctions earlier obtained in a series of lawsuits in the 70′s and 80′s? I have just learned that they managed to have the injuctions of SOS and SOCATS mooted without any notice to us.
Several organizations, including SOS and SOCATS, and many individuals, have therefore filed administrative appeals. Having jumped through that hoop, we now seek a star attorney to help us fight back once again in court.
The BLM offers, in its new Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to make toxic herbicides available to the Oregon district managers who want to wipe out plants they consider to be interfering with other plants, business and agicultural objectives or even (their idea of) esthetics. They propose to permit the use of toxics for any unwanted growth anywhere on BLM lands, and even on schoolgrounds leased from the BLM They are offering an expanded arsenal of toxics to BLM managers throughout Oregon, after an assessment is done. Some of the permitted herbicides, and some of the chemicals mixed with them, are carcinogenic.
The use of carcinogenic chemicals on our public lands ought to be unthinkable. Herbicides have been known to lodge in body fat, human organs, and breast milk ducts, which can result in ductal carcinoma, and/or poison baby’s first drink. Cancer kills more children under 15 than any other disease (American Cancer Society, 2009, which also predicted that 10,730 US children would be diagnosed with cancer in 2009) I don’t think this is from smoking or germs.
Our era is sometimes described as the “sixth era of planetary mass extinctions,” with about 20,000 species going extinct per year (Yale School of Forestry) The BLM now proposes to hasten this process and to further shrink biodiversity achieved through millions of years of evolution. Their insane plan would pollute the waters of BLM lands, which of course run down to waters everywhere, including the water you drink and that vital to the life of fish and animals. Spraying toxics would also threaten peoples who use certain wild plants for healing and eating. Direct hits or drift could poison the plants as well as the animals and people who consume them. The BLM has not taken precautions to protect plant gatherers and healers.
You own this land, the BLM only (mis) manages it. Protect yourself, call your district manager, and insist that you will not tolerate such exposure. We cannot predict the future, but we can help to determine it.
for our Earth,
Barbara Kelley, Director,
Save Our ecoSystems (SOS)