The Kitsap Environmental Coalition is dropping a lawsuit filed against Pope Resources, organizers said Thursday. The lawsuit was in response to a plan in which herbicides would be sprayed from the air onto timberlands near Hansville.
“The $70,000.00 + legal price tag for us to attempt to stop the legally permitted use of pesticides on public water supplies and precious habitat, is simply out of reach for the residents of the small community of Hansville, WA,” a press release reads.
The coalition was formed in response to Pope Resources receiving approval to spray the controversial herbicide glyphosate on more than 330 acres of timberlands in Hansville via helicopter. Following a community meeting with the coalition in Hansville, Pope officials stated that they would postpone spraying until the Washington State Department of Natural Resources’ Pollution Control Hearings Board had a chance to hear the case in February 2019.
KEC President Randi Strong-Petersen said even though the coalition has withdrawn from legal action against Pope and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, the fight is not over yet.
“We do not see this as a loss; we see this as a huge win,” Strong-Petersen said. “We are not going away. We are even more powerful as a group. We are going to do whatever it takes to stop them from aerial spraying anywhere in Kitsap County.”
The president said the group now intends to focus on directing action toward the state regulatory bodies and lawmakers in order to change existing policies that have allowed for aerial application of herbicides like glyphosate in forest practices.
“Our hands were tied as long as we were in litigation,” Strong-Petersen said. “As of this morning, our hands are no longer tied, so stand by. Now we can run at DNR. We can run at Pope in a better way. We can reach out to our elected officials in a better way now that we are loose of that legal process.”
Adrian Miller, Olympic Resource Management’s director of administration and corporate affairs, said the withdrawal wouldn’t drastically affect Pope Resources’ plans for the timberlands.
“We had made the commitment earlier that we would not conduct aerial application of herbicides on that property until the Pollution Control Board hearing was met,” Miller said. “[The fact] that that hearing isn’t going to take place really doesn’t fundamentally change our operations moving forward.”
Miller said Pope Resources would still wait to apply glyphosate on the Hansville acreage due to the fact that the application must be conducted in dry weather.
“We’re still in the process — independent of the appeal — of evaluating how we want to manage these pieces of property and other properties in North Kitsap moving forward,” Miller said.
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org