Action Needed: Upcoming Aerial Spray

The herbicide helicopter is headed our way; call John Hancock and object, now (newsletter from 4/18/2022)

The main purpose of this newsletter is to let everyone know that John Hancock has planned to do an aerial, helicopter spray of some of the land they have clearcut, near O’Brien.  One of the worst things about clearcuts is the herbicides that go along with it, and the most dangerous way to use the herbicides is to spray them from a helicopter.  Just in March of this year, BTG Pactual (the other corporate/wall street timber company in this area) helicopter sprayed 92 acres on Grayback Creek near the Caves, and 72 acres at the headwaters of Gilligan & Leuizenger Creeks near O’Brien.  Now, John Hancock has another 72 acres in O’Brien (on Trapper Gulch near the California border) that are scheduled to be sprayed by helicopter.  Since the drift from chemicals that are applied by helicopter often travel 2-4 miles (according to the Oregon Health Authority), we need to get the helicopter spray to stop.

     Hancock owns more than 20,000 acres in this watershed, and has fresh clearcuts around most of our valley, including the Caves Highway, the Holland Hills, the O’Brien area, and Selma. They are going to want to apply herbicide chemicals to all of them.  If the helicopter spray continues to pick up, the 2-4 miles of drift apiece will pretty much cover the whole watershed.

     We need to set the precedent NOW that the helicopter spraying is not OK in this area.

     If you’d like to tell John Hancock that you don’t want the aerial spraying in this valley or in this county, please call the representative who submitted the permit:

Harlan Tso / John Hancock Life Insurance / Medford Silviculture

(928) 221-2551 (cell)

(541) 494-4400 (Medford office)

I called a few times last week and he hasn’t returned the call, but I will keep trying, and I hope that a bunch of others who read this will call as well.  Talking points might include:

  • Refer to the NOAP: “Aerial Spring Grass Spray”, 2022-712-03565, for the upcoming spray in O’Brien.
  • Refer to the NOAP: “2022 Release”, 2022-712-02762, for the already-completed spray in O’Brien and on Grayback Creek.
  • The Oregon Health Authority has stated that aerially applied chemicals can drift 2-4 miles from the application site.  For the O’Brien site, that would include the creeks and west fork of the Illinois River – upstream of all of O’Brien and Cave Junction!
  • A 2013 study in Triangle Lake, Oregon (a community surrounded by woods, like ours) took urine samples from residents soon after the forests were aerially sprayed, and found Atrazine and 2,4-D in ALL of the samples.  These two chemicals are first on the list of what John Hancock intends to aerially spray in O’Brien. 
  • Drift from aerial spraying results in chemical “trespass”, contaminating surface and groundwater, livestock, crops, and people.

Other Topics

  •    We have more of the road signs for putting at visible spots along the roads.  We could use more in town, more along the Redwood Highway, and more along the Caves Highway and the Holland Loop.  If you have frontage and could put up a sign, please reply to this email.
  •    The IV News printed a letter-to-the-editor from me last week, about the tax breaks that the timber corporations get and no longer make up for with paying a harvest tax to the county.  They are printing a second letter for me this week, and another letter from a resident in the Kelly Creek neighborhood.  I think the letters to the editor are a great way for us to gain visibility in this campaign; please consider sending one to our IV News here, and maybe to the Grants Pass Courier, too.  If you’d like someone to proofread your letter or double-check your facts, feel free to send it to us first (you can reply to this email).
  • I sat at a table at the opening day of the Cave Junction Farmer’s Market on Friday, asking everyone who walked by if they would like to sign the end-clearcutting petition.  Pretty much everyone I asked was excited to sign it!  The most interesting part was, several folks took the time to share some hair-raising stories about their experiences living next to clearcuts.  Livestock that died after spraying occurred, with no retribution.  Illness from chemicals and trauma.  Slash piles pushed across the property line, and ODF saying they have no help to offer because it is just a problem between neighbors – “just go talk to you neighbor” – and the “neighbor” in question is the multinational John Hancock corporation!  It was incredibly eye-opening.  So: I am interested in gathering up the stories.  I am not sure what I would do with them – maybe create a page for them on the Sasquatch Woods People website as a start – but these stories need to be shared.  If you have a clearcutting story, would you consider writing it down and sending it to me?  And if you have photos to send with it, that would be great, too.
  • Recommended reference of the week: Jo-el has been listening to podcasts from “For the Wild” (and then telling me about them), and they are amazing.  Intelligent discussions by a gifted and well-studied interviewer, with leaders and leading thinkers about the anthropocene and the wreckage it is creating, and some revolutionary ideas for and stories about taking relevant action.  The interview with Corrina Gould on Settler Responsibility and Reciprocity was eye-opening, and the interview with Chris Hedges on deflating the ruling elite through civil disobedience (#271) was even better.  Thank you to Caitlin for pointing us to these!
  • If you haven’t yet signed the petition, please check it out!  You can sign online through the link on our Sasquatch Woods People website.  Better yet, you can sign the paper in CJ at Cabin Chemistry or at Bear Images: a great excuse for a trip into one of our gems of local shopping!  And, please tell your friends about the petition, share on social media, etc.  We have about 300 signatures, which is great, but I know there are a lot more people in this valley and in this county, who care and would love to sign if they knew about it.

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