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Senator McGuire official Co-Author of AB99

AB99 Update & Call to Action: Help us create a law that would require Caltrans to use pesticides only as a last resort in Sonoma County!


It is a big deal that Senator Majority Leader Mike McGuire (District 2) has signed on as co-author of AB99. Senator McGuire is a big advocate for pesticide use reduction. Several of the counties he represents use extremely low amounts or no pesticides for road maintenance. Caltrans in Humboldt and Mendocino Counties has used no pesticides for over 35 years. Senator McGuire also played a big part in helping Toxic Free Future/Sonoma SASS get its start ~7 years ago at the Sonoma County Conservation Action Grassroots Gala. We are honored to have Senator McGuire's continued support as this bill nears the finish line.


District 2 California State Senator & Majority Leader Mike McGuire


AB99 will be heard by the Senate Appropriations committee on August 14th. This bill that would severely limit Caltrans' pesticide use in Sonoma County and we are hoping it can make it passed this critical step. Caltrans is fighting the bill with an unreasonable cost estimate in an attempt to scare the Senate Appropriations committee into rejecting the bill. In Sonoma County, where our County Transportation and Public Works department uses 30 times less pesticides per road mile than Caltrans, we know this type of pesticide reduction is reasonable, doable, and cost effective.


Please help us with these 2 critical action items:


1. Submit a signed letter from your business or organization to the Senate Appropriations Committee: Custom individual letters from organizations, even if you have already been part of a group sign-on letter can make a big impression.


The portal to submit a position letter is here: https://calegislation.lc.ca.gov/Advocates/


You can also email your letters to (megan.kaun@gmail.com) and Sonoma SASS can submit them on your behalf. Letters need to be received by Wednesday Aug 9th.


2. Help us contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee: Do you or someone you know live in one of these Districts? If so, please call them! Talking points are below that focus primarily on the fiscal impact:

Thank you to everyone who has participated in this truly monumental effort! ------- Key talking points: We respectfully request your support of AB-99, a bill introduced by Assembly member Connolly that would require the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to adopt a statewide policy to only use integrated pest management (IPM) on state roads and highways in counties where IPM has been adopted to limit pesticide use as a last resort tool. AB99 also requires Caltrans to publish their pesticide use annually and provide notifications 24 hours in advance of spraying. AB99 would not eliminate pesticide use by Caltrans. It's goal would be to move toward reducing unnecessary pesticide use and its associated unnecessary costs and risk to human health and the environment. It's important to note that AB99 allows for emergency pesticide use in cases that impact public health, fire risk, and invasive species management. It also provides Caltrans with a mechanism to use chemical treatment in situations where other methods have not been effective. The Integrated Vegetation Management Program that Caltrans adopted in 1992 has failed to cause a reduction in herbicide use. Caltrans set a goal to reduce pesticide use by 80% in their 1992 programmatic Environmental Impact Report for Vegetation Control but Caltrans' herbicide use has only increased. Caltrans’ pesticide use rates vary erratically, from under 5 pounds/road mile to over 150 pounds/road mile in areas that otherwise have similar climates and road conditions. There is overwhelming evidence that many Caltrans districts are over-purchasing and overusing dangerous chemicals with state funds on public lands. Caltrans cost estimate completely ignores the more "soft" solutions that involve using natural systems to an advantage. Roadside environmental health is not considered by the agency in cost/benefit analyses.

  1. Caltrans assumes mowing would replace herbicides. In truth, there are many other alternatives that are economically viable and proven successful that Caltrans could implement including grazing, replacing unwanted vegetation with native grasses and plants, controlled burning, and "pollinator highways". Many of these options involve upfront costs that would then set a roadside up for minimal to zero maintenance for years to come. Grazing and controlled burning to remove unwanted vegetation and seed banks coupled with replanting activities could create vast stretches of virtually maintenance-free roadsides.

  2. "Pollinator highways" have been successfully implemented by the Florida Department of Transportation and dozens of other state highway agencies to reduce long term maintenance costs and provide millions of dollars in ecosystem services.

There is a huge potential for roadsides to become wildlife corridors and provide valuable habitat while naturally combating invasive species. For example, "Pollinator Highways" have been created in numerous climate zones throughout the United States and have been shown to improve wildlife habitat, reduce water and air pollution, sequester carbon, increase farm yields, control invasive plants and insects, and reduce road maintenance costs. The Florida Department of Transportation has reported saving 30% on their maintenance costs while creating over $500M in ecosystem services annually by maintaining pollinator highways.



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