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  • Megan Kaun

Experts on pesticide-free highways discuss AB-99

The EcoNews podcast recently interviewed three technical and policy experts on pesticide-free highways and the new California Assembly Bill 99 (Connolly D12). Patty Clary, Director of Californians for Alternatives to Toxics (CaTS), Patty Mayall, Director of Protect Our Watershed, and Megan Kaun, Director of Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools (Sonoma SASS) discuss some of the work done by grassroots groups to stop Caltrans' pesticide spraying over the last 45 years.

A full transcript and audio recording of the interview are available at the link below.

CaTS Director Patty Clary began working with Caltrans to stop roadside pesticide use over 4 decades ago. Here's what she had to say about the work she has shepherded that lead to roadside pesticide bans in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties 35 years ago that are still in effect today!


Well, broadcast spring hasn't occurred in Humboldt or Mendocino County for 35 years. Actually the whole thing goes back way back. It goes back to where we had state Senator Peter Bear for our district. So we're talking 45 plus years ago, people of Mendocino and Humboldt, especially around the Trinidad Bay area were protesting Caltrans spraying and we told Caltrans that we were going to sue them. This was in 1988. They offered to do a programmatic environmental impact report statewide and a few other things to reduce their pesticide use by 50% pretty quickly. They suspended herbicide spraying in District 1 Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Lake and at the time part of Siskiyou County. That went on from 1989 until 1997 when they decided they were going to spray again, even though they had released the EIR, which was going to be what triggered the resumption of herbicide spraying and end of the suspension in Humboldt County. The EIR came out in 1993 and it was met with immediate protests. There was a bicycle riders club on the highway in Humboldt and they were blocking traffic. We had daily media coverage on this for ages. Caltrans offered that if we could get elected officials to ask them to not spray in their jurisdiction, they would they would suspend it [pesticide spraying]. So we did that and almost all the cities (except Fortuna) agreed. Ultimately Humboldt County unanimously approved that too.

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