FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
People and Nature Being Held Hostage in Beaver Creek
An impending pesticide spray in the Beaver Creek watershed is putting residents on high alert; drinking water is threatened; state and local officials say they have no legal options to stop it.
Barbara Davis, Lincoln County Community Rights Board
Photos available by request
August 30, 2023
Seal Rock, Or-A private timberland owner has notified the requisite state agencies of his plan to aerially spray 473 acres of clear cut forest over the Beaver Creek watershed in Lincoln County with a chemical cocktail containing glyphosate also known as Round Up. Glyphosate has been known to cause multiple types of cancers and is the subject of upwards of 100,000 lawsuits against Monsanto / Bayer. 100% of the water from the Seal Rock Water District (SRWD) comes from Beaver Creek. SRWD supplies water to about 5,500 customers. The permit, legally allowing the spray, is active starting early September and is good for 90 days from the start date.
In 2017 Measure 21-177, a county-wide ban on aerially sprayed pesticides was made law by the voters of Lincoln County. Though understood by a number of governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as a large percentage of the general public in Lincoln County and elsewhere in Oregon of both the dangers and impacts of pesticides as well the aerial application, the state continues to legalize both the use of toxic pesticides and aerial application. Shortly after the adoption of the county law, which also protected the rights of ecosystems from harm which would’ve included Beaver Creek, a lawsuit was filed by timber interests, despite the democratic enactment of the law. After 29 months the law was overturned by a circuit court judge, which was upheld by the court of appeals, based on what is called state preemption of pesticide law, despite the vote of the people. State preemption, or more specifically state ceiling preemption, disallows local jurisdictions the authority to regulate or prohibit activities even where it comes to public and environmental health.
County and state elected officials as well as state agencies have all stated that this spraying is legal and, meets all state requirements for pesticide application. They all agree that the decision to spray or not to spray rests solely with the landowner. The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners wrote a letter to the land owner, “Oregon law makes the decision to spray or not to spray yours. Your ownership of our precious natural resources also comes with a clear ethical, if not legal, obligation to protect them. We urge you to seek alternative means to control unwanted vegetation.”
Local residents and allies from across the county and outside of the county have been calling the impending spray into question as well as mobilizing on their options to stop it. A principal question that has come up in public meetings has been why isn’t there the legal authority to stop the spray. Connected to that questioning and growing outrage is the realization that a single landowner, one who is living overseas, can have more rights to spray and log than the community to prohibit each in defense of public and environmental health.
Willow Kasner let the world know, “We, as a neighborhood and community, do not consent to being poisoned. We do not consent to having these known and proven carcinogenic long term dangerous chemicals sprayed on or near to our precious ecosystem and water supply. We are caretakers of this land, for generations, and we plan to continue to live and thrive healthily here.”
The residents of Beaver Creek are currently creating a GoFundMe page to raise awareness and mount a challenge to this spray event which stands to affect the lives of all residents, humans, wildlife and their watershed for decades. The local group has also started a website.
Tianne Rios says “What the F! How can a guy sitting in a Denmark castle drop a chemical bomb in our country tainting the water supply for multiple communities causing a health crisis in the most beautiful part of the Oregon Coast and there is nothing local residents impacted by the spray can do about it? Something is wrong here and we intend to do something about it.”