Challenges For Santa Cruz Herbicide Ban
Aug. 3 - KGO (KGO) -- If you live in Santa Cruz County you better learn to love weeds. It seems the good intentions of being environmentally friendly are running up against some hard realities no spraying means more weeds, a lot more weeds. The public works department is on overload trying to keep up with a policy banning herbicides.
By some standards, the roadside weeds in Santa Cruz County are out of control. Bonnie Doon road is where Larry Ernst has lived for more than 20 years.
Larry Ernst, Bonny Doon road resident: "The weeds are so high they bump your car and block visibility."
The only remedy public works has is mowing the weeds. Last year the county board of supervisors enacted a three year moratorium on using herbicides. So no Round Up and more weeds.
Mardi Wormhoudt, Santa Cruz County Supervisor: "Frankly, it's environmentally sound and I think we all have to be willing to take these risks and accept these challenges."
There's no question it's a challenge. The county is in charge of keeping 400 miles of roadside clear.The winter weather created a perfect storm of sorts in the public works department. Not only did the rain feed the weeds but there's $15,000,000 of storm damage through the county.
Manpower is spread thin and so is money. Public works says it costs about $3,000 a mile to run the mowing operation and less than $100 a mile to spray round up, so it's prioritizing.
John Presleigh, Assistant Director Public Works: "We're concentrating on areas where there is a high degree of distance in the road and coming out of intersections or curves in the road."
But the weeds are winning there's a growing concern about fire danger. And county leaders say they need to look at options.
Ellen Pirie, Santa Cruz county supervisor: "I think we're at that stage where we're figuring out what we have to do and how much it's going to cost and where is the money going to come from."
At least one county supervisor wants the board to reconsider spraying in non residential areas. But he's up against a majority of the board who is determined to make the three year moratorium work.
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