Caltrans No-Spray Requests, Spring 2023
The grasses are growing and Caltrans will be around soon to spray CA-116. If you live/work along CA-116 (or any other state highway) and are interested in joining an effort to stop your property from being sprayed please read on.
The Healthy Highways coalition (a project of Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools) will be sending a notice to Caltrans of the properties along Sonoma County state highways that wish for chemical roadside vegetation control operations to be ceased. Please send us your address for inclusion in this list (SASS@conservationaction.org). There is no guarantee that Caltrans will listen to our requisitions, however, they are required to by law:
"Existing law prohibits each state agency that has responsibility for roadside vegetation control operations on, or along, a roadway, including a state highway, from conducting a roadside vegetation control operation on a portion of the roadway for which a property owner has made a request for information related to the roadside vegetation control operation until certain conditions are satisfied."
In 2022, Caltrans sprayed CA-116 south of Sebastopol on Sunday February 27. It was a sunny afternoon and community members were out and about riding their bikes, shopping at local antique shops, and driving to the Sebastopol Farmer's Market. A Caltrans spray truck showed up and caused a minor traffic jam along the road. A dozen cars were lined up behind the truck, which was spraying a toxic mixture of Accord (glyphosate), Gallery (isoxaben), and Dimension Ultra (dithiopyr and toluene). According to the manufacturer's safety data sheets, these pesticides are known Prop 65 carcinogens, known to the state of California to cause developmental harm, marine pollutants, and highly toxic to aquatic life. People in their cars reported tasting and smelling chemicals, a sign of pesticide exposure. An exposure report was filed with the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner's office and many steps were taken to discover what had happened and what was sprayed. It took our local government 6 months to receive this information despite expending much effort in trying. When Caltrans was asked if they would discontinue spraying on weekends, they said they were allowed to spray on any day of the week. When the community requested notifications before spraying would happen Caltrans replied that if they provided notifications, people would protest the spraying, which would interfere with their operations. Caltrans is not being accountable to the public they serve. They continue to damage community members due to negligent operations. This is why Assembly Member Damon Connolly authored Assembly Bill 99, which would provide local control over Caltrans' pesticide use on our state highways.
On a lighter note, we still have a few "Save the Bees, No Spray Please" signs available, please let if know if you would like us to set one up next to your property.