The article on herbicides in the Klamath National Forest (KNF) (Summer 2003) ignored the KNF’s reasons for spraying to control invasive non-native weeds which are destroying our biological diversity. When aggressive weeds occupy as many acres as they do today, employment of chemicals is often the only option left.
The article cited non-chemical community-based noxious weed control, as by the Salmon River Restoration Council. “It focuses on early detection of weeds, hand removal before weeds go to seed, mulching, and revegetation with natives.” Ahh, my vision exactly! This is where we should be heading. However, it is not where we are heading. Think of the yellow star thistle cited in the article — it occupies perhaps 22 million acres in California alone. Lack of public awareness of the weed problem is a major impediment, and your article merely demonstrates this lack. Both federal and state agencies are hard put for resources to cope with their manifold responsibilities. There is not enough money to hire staff for manual eradication, and for the California Indian Basketweavers Association (CIBA) or other critics to say that “toxics” are unnecessary is only displaying their lack of understanding of the dire situation.
Citing the Journal of Pesticide Reform doesn’t help CIBA’s case. Articles in this journal are not reviewed by scientific peers, leading to the suspicion that a given article may prove what the researcher intended to prove in the beginning.
Jake Sigg, Chair<br>Invasive Exotics Committee<br>California Native Plant Society
<i>Anouk McKenzie responds: Groups like CNPS are doing invaluable work, but the issue of how to deal with invasives is threatening to polarize conservation groups.
The Karuks’ position is clear: they reject herbicides as a quick fix to control invasives. CIBA says the EPA’s testing of herbicide ingredients in isolation fails to prove they are safe. The Karuks’ intimacy with the land makes them more susceptible to any health problems pesticides cause. Proving the insidious effects of herbicides on human health is beyond the Karuks’ resources.
The Journal of Pesticide Reform is not peer-reviewed because it doesn’t publish original research. The publication disseminates information to the public from government sources, manufacturers, or journals that have themselves been peer-reviewed.
It’s not just biological diversity that’s under threat here but also cultural diversity. Who wants to eat or work with sprayed vegetation, or eat deer that browse on sprayed vegetation and have internal lesions?
Karuk representative Renee Stauffer says invasive weeds have not yet affected native plants in their area, making community stewardship feasible if they act now.</i>