By Marianne Lincoln
It was a Thursday morning, no different than any other. I was on my way to work heading down the hill from McGee’s Guest Home on Eustis Hunt Road into Pioneer Valley. Below me was the oxbow that flows through the valley into the Frederickson area and the Chambers Clover Creek system.
I noticed some yellow flashing lights at the bottom of the hill coming toward me. As I drew near, I could see there was a county herbicide spraying truck and another vehicle ahead of it. I passed by them right at the bottom of the hill where there are road barricades and the marshland water flows from east to west under the road.
As I passed, I turned my head around and looked backward out of my open window to see the stream of spray. I always look when I see them spraying. And, they were spraying. The nozzle was pointed down from near the top of the truck at slightly under a 45 degree angle. The stream of spray was hitting the road next to the truck, the railing and a small amount was overshooting the railing and into the marsh on the other side.
Whoa! What did I just see? Awww, I didn’t want to see that. As soon as I could, I pulled over and turned the car around for a couple photos. By the time I caught up to the spray truck, it was at the top of the hill past the railroad tracks. I snapped a photo of the truck spraying near McGees.
I have lived in the area since I was 10, in Pierce County all of my life except during college, when I studied water chemistry at USCS. I have been a member of local community associations and the Chambers Clover Creek Watershed Council. As I drove on my way toward work I thought about what should be done. I pulled over a minute and posted a photo of Facebook, with a caption about what I just saw. Several friends had responded before I reached work. I commented asking some direction from friend John Ladenburg, who soon responded to call Public Works, let them know what I saw and inquire about the chemicals used and approvals obtained.
At lunch I called and left a message at Public Works.
The next day I received a call back from Jeff Rudolph at Pierce County Public Works, but was unable to reach him when I had time to call at lunch. Finally on Tuesday April 21, Jeff Rudolph contacted me again. He verified the contractor did spray in the area. The area should be marked as a sensitive area and it was not. He said Pierce County will send out a crew to do the markers.
This waterway feeds Clover Creek which is a salmon bearing creek. Mr Rudolph noted, “We will wait for the die off to see how excessive the spray was.” He also disclosed the chemicals used in that spray truck were: Ranger Pro (good around water but requires permit) and these, not for sensitive areas: Insist 90, Tayload and Landmark XP.
Pierce County Public Works is apologizing for the incident.