HANSVILLE — Herbicides will soon be sprayed from the air onto 333 acres of recently harvested timberlands.
Pope Resources’ timberland management company, Olympic Resource Management, was recently given the OK from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources to conduct aerial sprays of glyphosate (Roundup) and other chemicals.
Adrian Miller, the director of administration and corporate affairs for Olympic Resource Management, said the spraying helps ensure that trees planted on the lands would not be competing with other species for sunlight.
“Pope Resources applies herbicides on our property following harvest to ensure that the trees we replant are able to survive and establish themselves quickly,” Miller said.
The group, Miller said, had received approval from DNR to apply three chemicals to the acreages known as Hanging Beaver and Last Rights in Kitsap County. Hanging Beaver constitutes 333 acres of recently harvested land iand Last Rights makes up about 70 acres southeast of the town of Holly in South Kitsap.
Miller also said that herbicide applications were few and far between, only requiring one or two applications between each harvest.
“This is a single application on this piece of property for the next 40 years, until the next crop is harvested,” he said.
Some locals have stated their concerns over the potential impact of the sprays, but Miller pointed to existing regulatory processes on both the federal and state levels for which herbicides can be used in a given area.
“I would say there’s no probability of impact to marine mammals. All of these herbicides are prohibited from being applied in water,” he said. “These chemicals have been studied and approved for use in a forestry setting, so long as we don’t allow them to enter a water course.”
Thomas Doty, a retired population biologist and chair of the North Kitsap Heritage Park Stewardship Group, expressed concern for the communities of frogs and salamanders that may make their homes in the vernal pools that form on Pope’s property.
“Amphibians are disappearing globally but it’s because of local causes. And among the local causes are the things we spray in the environment, specifically glyphosate. There are all kinds of studies — those that are published by independent universities and organizations — that show the direct toxicity of glyphosate materials, particularly if they have a surfactant … are directly lethal to amphibian larvae,” he said.
The proximity of the treated property to tribal lands has caused some concern among officials with the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe as well.
Tribal Chairman Jeromy Sullivan said biologists with the tribe had been working with Pope Resources to come up with answers.
“There are always concerns with this application of herbicides,” Sullivan said. “Our biggest concern is with it getting into the water or any kind of stream. … It could impact fish. It could impact shellfish, beaches, things like that. The plan is to make sure that it does not go near any of the creeks that flow into Port Gamble Bay or even into the Hood Canal.”
The tribe, Sullivan said, was working to ensure that any potential impacts to tribal lands and operations would be minimized.
“Herbicides in general, are a necessary evil, I guess,” he said. “We just want to make sure that they’re not damaging or hurting anything.
“It’s a tough one,” the chairman added. “I’m not a big fan.”
As for when the spraying will take place, Miller said it was hard to nail down an exact time and date due to weather.
Miller suggested that concerned residents with questions relating to the chemical application, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone via 360-394-0595.
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter with Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at email@example.com