WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Letter to the Editor: Herbicides so close to Newport’s drinking water….

The views and opinions of submitters to “Letters to the Editor” do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of NewsLincolnCounty.com, its staff or advertisers. The positions taken in the following letter are strictly those of the submitter(s).
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SEE RESPONSE FROM NEWPORT CITY MANAGER SPENCER NEBEL BELOW:
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From Jan Kenyon, Newport
Newport Citizens:

Your water supply may soon be contaminated with pesticides.

On March 15th, a permit was issued to Hancock Forest Management allowing the backpack spray of herbicides onto land directly over the Newport Reservoir and the creeks that feed it. To be clear, this planned spray is legal. Ordinance 21-177, passed last May, bans only aerial spray of pesticides.

At the April 16th Newport City Council meeting, concerned citizen found that the city has been in negotiations with Hancock to create a Memorandum of Understanding covering many parcels along the Newport watershed. The MOU has not been signed. Yet. The next opportunity for public comment will be at the Newport City Council meeting, May 7th, 6 PM, Newport City Hall.

The actions of the Newport City Council and Hancock Forest Management leave more questions than answers. The March permit declares it is Hancock’s intention to use toxic chemicals. This plan allows drift into residential neighborhoods and run-off into our drinking water.

So, what are the city’s intentions? What is in this memorandum? Where are they in their negotiations? Do we, the citizens, have any real input into what is to happen to our children, elderly, unborn, chemically sensitive and so-far-healthy? Are the real, no-spray alternatives that provide for a healthier eco-system and water quality being considered? We don’t know.

We have a right to transparency when our health is at stake. We have a right to a meaningful voice when it comes to the sanctity of our water. This is not a reality we have to pass on as a legacy to our children. Hancock Timber Management planted older saplings with no spray in a similar situation in Depoe Bay last year.

Coming to the meeting on May 7th will be too late. Please send your comments to the mayor and city council at http://www.newportoregon.gov/common/contacts.asp. Ask for transparency. Ask to be part of the negotiations. Ask that we create a better, safer future.

For more information and updates, go to www.facebook.com/yeson21-177 or www.facebook.com/lccr.

Jan Kenyon Member, Lincoln County Community Rights

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From Maria Krause
Lincoln County Community Rights

Hancock and City Officials considering back-pack spraying right above Newport’s drinking water reservoir

Back-pack spraying is not included in the spray ban now in effect in Lincoln County. Though less harmful because it is less subject to drifting, it seeps like aerial spraying into the soil and percolates downhill, contaminating all water it intercepts on its way down the slope. We know the documented effects of pesticides and herbicides on life. In humans, they cause various forms of cancer, Alzheimer’s, endocrine disruption, autism, Parkinson’s, and more.

City officials have the responsibility to protect the safety and health of the city’s population. The plan being developed by the City and Hancock is placing the people of Newport at great risk. The chemicals to be used, if tested at all, have been tested individually, not in combination with each other, or for their effects, individually or in combination, after repeated exposures over time. Hancock has the obligation to provide evidence that the chemicals to be applied are safe when applied in any and all the ways just described. No other manner of approving their use can suffice.

Last year, Depoe Bay faced exactly the same situation involving spraying alongside their reservoir. In their case, a requirement from the mayor to the timber company to provide the above-mentioned proof caused Hancock to reconsider its plan. It used manual cutting of competing vegetation instead of applying poisons. The people of Newport, now under the same threat as Depoe Bay was last year, have not consented to having their water contaminated with chemicals. The toxic threat to them through contamination of Big Creek Reservoir can be eliminated the same way.

We urge our city officials to keep the safety of Newport’s population, not Hancock’s profits, foremost in mind.

Maria Sause
Lincoln County Community Rights

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RESPONSE FROM NEWPORT CITY MANAGER SPENCER NEBEL:

Thank you for your communication regarding drinking water safety. I presume that you are speaking about the possible back-pack spraying of herbicides by Hancock Forests in the watershed for the City of Newport. First of all, no decisions have been made by either the City of Newport or Hancock regarding this matter.

As a forestry company, Hancock is acting legally and within their rights as a property owner and it is our opinion that the City has no legal authority to make them stop backpack spraying on their own property provided they are following the required setbacks and practices established by the State of Oregon and the Federal Government.

That being said, Hancock has indicated to the City Council that they are willing to consider further steps than required by current regulations to measure and evaluate any impacts to our municipal water source from forestry practices including the use of herbicides. The City has received a proposed action plan from Hancock that has not been vetted or reviewed internally as of this date, April 21st.

It is our intent to provide a report to the City Council on May 7 to share with them Hancock’s proposed plan to use the City’s water shed to obtain information, including any recommendations from staff, to better understand what impact forestry operations has on our water. A decision from the Council is not anticipated to be made on May 7. Any decisions by the Council regarding entering into some sort of MOU with Hancock are anticipated to occur at a later time.

Spencer R. Nebel
City Manager
City of Newport, Oregon 97365

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