Kitsap County residents fight back against companies spraying herbicide

Residents in Kitsap County say they are organizing and fighting back after a logging company announced plans to spray herbicide on hundreds of acres of land near Hansville. The company, Pope Resources, said it will preserve the forest but some are worried about the long-term impact.

The Kitsap Environmental Coalition has launched an effort to call into question the permits obtained by Pope Resources to spray herbicide on more than 300 acres of land in northern Kitsap County. The areas that could be sprayed are large tracts of land that have been clear-cut for timber to the west of the intersection of Hansville Road and Little Boston Road.

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Randi Strong-Peterson is one of the effort's leaders and was clear about how she feels about the potential to spray the land.

“This is a beautiful place, with not only beautiful waters and ground and drinking water as well," she said. "It’s not OK that this timber company wants to spray poison out of a helicopter.”

KIRO 7 crews were filming the area that could be sprayed when a resident, TJ McCue, drove by. McCue said he does live adjacent to the land that could be sprayed and has some level of concern.

“I think maybe if it wasn't aerial I wouldn't be as concerned,” he said. McCue also added that he can understand why the company feels the need to spray the herbicide, Glyphosate, but he also understands why people in the community are upset about a helicopter raining down chemicals.

“I think there are a number of people that live close to the water you think about the weed killer going into the ocean,” he said.

Pope Resources said it wants to prevent invasive species, and the only way to do so is to spray herbicides like Glyphosate along with a combination of other chemicals.

Nearly 200 people packed the Greater Hansville Community Center on Monday for a meeting organized by Pope Resources, where the company discussed its plan. The signs leading to the community center on the roadside called for no spraying, especially Glyphosate. While it is used commonly in farming, many who came to the company’s meeting see it as poison.

Jon Rose, vice president of real estate for Pope Resources, told the crowd that the company hears their concerns.

“We know that you're scared about this polluting the environment, we know that people are scared, 'Oh my god am I going to get sprayed is it bad for my kids, is this going to pollute ground water,'” he said.

Representatives at the meeting spoke for well over an hour on the company’s views on its potential spray operation. The company said Glyphosate has not been proven to cause cancer, isn't designed to penetrate soil and isn't the only chemical that would be used when spraying the land. It also said that the spray would only happen once every 40 years and would be targeted to avoid homes and natural resources, according to Adrian Miller, director of administrative and corporate affairs for Pope.

He and others said extensive work would be done to target the spraying operation and that buffers to keep it away from things were established by law.

People opposed to the plan to spray did get one wish – that Pope Resources pause its spray operating until a hearing of a state pollution control body.

“I think it’s a sign that people stand against this they want to protect their water, they want to protect their environment,” said Pam Keeley of the Kitsap Environmental Coalition.

Officials with Pope Resources and the Environmental Coalition said that the hearing to decide if the company will spray could happen between September and January.