Officials with Pope Resources announced Friday that they will not spray herbicides on more than 330 acres of timberlands until a formal hearing is held.
The Department of Natural Resources’ Pollution Control Hearings Board is scheduled to hear the case in February.
“We’re going to continue to postpone our herbicide application until after the permit goes through the Pollution Control Hearing Board,” Adrian Miller, Pope Resources’ director of administration and corporate affairs, said. “Our company has had a long history in Kitsap County. Actually, our company predates statehood — let alone the county — and we hope to operate here in perpetuity.
“We have to have the ability to have conversations about our operations with the community when we have concerns. This particular operation obviously has [seen] the community express a significant degree of concern, and we’re serious about that dialogue.”
A community meeting was scheduled by Pope Resources after residents decried the company’s plans to spray the herbicide glyphosate and other chemicals from a helicopter on land near Hansville. That meeting is scheduled for September 10 at 6:30 p.m.
When Pope’s plans to spray herbicides became public in August, opponents quickly formed the Kitsap Environmental Coalition. The coalition’s legal counsel, Piper Thornburgh, said she had been working with Pope on an agreement that would delay spraying until after the PCHB hearing.
While the company has agreed to hold off spraying, it maintains that the approved permit is in compliance with existing standards.
“We are confident that our permit is in full compliance with the law and hope to use the intervening time between now and the decision to fully understand the range of concerns before moving forward herbicide applications on this portion of our property,” Miller said in the press release announcing the agreement.
One of the leaders of the Kitsap Environmental Coalition, Randi Strong-Petersen, said, “we’re just thrilled” with the news.
“We are over the top, ecstatic that our efforts over the last five-and-a-half weeks have successfully come to this,” she said.
While Strong-Petersen said the announcement was certainly good news, she noted that the coalition is only beginning its work to stop the use of herbicides in Washington.
“We have a lot to learn, and this is the beginning — not the end,” Strong-Petersen said. “Endgame is to change the laws in Washington state with regard to the use and application of herbicides and pesticides.”