Pope Resources has been pulling fast ones, much like the used car salesman with a deal you can’t resist who then tacks on all the charges once you’ve been roped in. In mid-July, following months of pressure by the Kitsap Environmental Coalition, Pope stated they would refrain from spraying their clear-cuts with glyphosate from helicopters over Kitsap County this year. Fantastic! shouted many, how altruistic and environmentally minded of them! Pope hastened to clarify that the moratorium had nothing to do with outcry from local communities or the KEC, but that there were other factors that allowed them the safer option of backpack spraying instead of aerial spraying.
Pope spokesperson Adrian Miller states that the moratorium “is not a signal that activist groups can raise their hands up and automatically change our practices, but it’s a recognition of our immediate neighbors’ concerns as well as the site conditions.” So Pope loves its “neighbors” but it won’t be influenced by “activists.” Good neighbors don’t get uppity.
They’re right about one thing: increased development in our region means that the freewheeling forestry practices of yore must go.
For the KEC, nothing less than the complete elimination of toxic chemical herbicides is acceptable.
The scientific literature on the dangers of glyphosate and other compounds (chlorpyrifos, dicamba, imazapyr, sulfometuron) —likely leading to cancers, endocrine disruption, species extinction—and the fact that the stuff doesn’t go away and its toxicity persists—are all well studied and documented by now. Many US municipalities and counties are banning chemical herbicides, as are entire countries. Locally just this year, Kitsap County has ceased most spraying of glyphosate, as have the city of Poulsbo and the North Kitsap school district.
There’s also a strong legal incentive to stop using poison weed killers. Huge settlements to cancer victims of Roundup may be obliging Big Timber and Farming to try to recall how they used to do things before 1974 when Roundup first came to market.
As the climate crisis hurtles toward an irreversible fate for humanity and wildlife, nearly 50 countries have committed to plant millions of trees to try to mitigate global warming, yet Pope’s very business is deforestation—not selective harvesting but wholesale shearing of all vegetation from thousands of acres. Only a focused and organized uprising can stop this folly.
Our current government is not providing solutions. Washington State’s regulations regarding forest practices and chemicals were essentially drafted by the timber lobby, and the Department of Natural Resources couldn’t be more hospitable to Pope as the company applies for permits to spray in ways (and at ecologically sensitive sites) that can do great harm to our water and wildlife. Pope’s press release hails the recent passage of WA Senate Bill 5597, which mandates a legislative work group to study aerial pesticide spraying. The group consists largely of agents of Big Timber and Farming, several departments of WA government, four legislators, an expert on aerial spraying, and tribal representatives. Of two dozen people designated for the committee, a total of three represent environmental organizations. There is not one scientist. No wonder Pope is excited about the group’s anticipated findings.
Though many saw Pope’s announcement as a victory, others were skeptical. Pope promised not to spray glyphosate aerially in Kitsap this year. What other toxins might Pope spray aerially? How will ground spraying impact sensitive water areas? And if not Kitsap, where else? One answer came just a week later. Pope has now announced that numerous parcels across neighboring Jefferson and Mason counties will be sprayed aerially in the next two months, including an area very close to City Lake, source of Port Townsend’s drinking water.
Many of those who came to wave signs and protest on July 29 in front of Pope’s corporate headquarters in Poulsbo are Jefferson and Mason County citizens with property near these spray zones, whose livelihoods and health are severely threatened by the poisons about to be spread. These are the very neighbors Pope claims to be neighborly with, and they are frightened and furious.
Pope does not have a monopoly on the definition of neighborliness, especially as our natural resources approach a critical point of no return.
KEC IS A YEAR OLD!
The Kitsap Environmental Coalition arose in August 2018 as a grass-roots citizen reaction to Pope Resources’ plan to spray 400 acres of clear-cut land near Hansville at the north end of Kitsap. The KEC has accomplished a lot over the past year. KEC acquired nonprofit status, elected officers, and established communication networks. It initiated legal action that resulted in Pope’s delay of spraying the Hansville parcel. KEC’s gala fundraising auction at the Village Green in Kingston in November was a smashing success and helped pay KEC’s legal bills. Over the months KEC has been instrumental in the North Kitsap School District’s decision not to use glyphosate, as well as the Kingston Village Green Community Center’s moratorium on glyphosate. Kitsap County’s resolution ending most uses of glyphosate on county property came as major good news in June. Pope’s announcement, for its part, that it won’t spray glyphosate in Kitsap this year is a highly welcome move in the right direction, though there is much more to be done.
KEC has become a highly recognizable force, picketing regularly in Kingston and Poulsbo, publishing this monthly newsletter, participating in meetings with elected officials, appearing at farmers’ markets, and coordinating events and actions with environmental groups across WA State. It continues to educate citizens and community leaders about environmental issues through publications, actions, film screenings, and forums.
 Nick Twietmeyer, “Pope Resources Will Not Spray Glyphosate in Kitsap,” Kitsap Daily News, July 18, 2019