Action Alert! Highway 20 Tree Kill Hearings

Last year it came to light that hundreds of the iconic, old-growth ponderosa pine trees along Highway 20 are dying because they were sprayed with a deadly herbicide by the Forest Service and ODOT over the course of three consecutive years.

The herbicide, called Perspective, had previously been determined to be toxic to Central Oregon’s local flora. LandWatch’s public records requests to the Forest Service and ODOT showed that the danger posed by Perspective was known to these agencies before they chose to use it. We also learned that Perspective was used extensively in other areas of our region, including near Sunriver and along roads in Newberry National Volcanic Monument and the Ochoco National Forest. 

Last year, we asked you to weigh in on the Forest Service’s plan to log and sell the dying trees along Highway 20. On Monday this week, the Forest Service finalized this plan to harvest and sell over 2,100 trees - many more than indicated in initial reports.

At our suggestion, the Forest Service did agree to leave some trees standing as boles and provide downed wood for wildlife habitat. However, this is a small restitution, and we are still heartbroken at the negligence that led to the loss of these beloved trees.  

Today, there is a new opportunity with the State of Oregon to stop the use of this herbicide in the future, and we’re asking you to take action again.

Due to the avoidable deaths of these trees and the resulting public response, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has already temporarily banned the use of Aminocyclopyrachlor (ACP), the main active ingredient in Perspective, along roads and rights-of-way to prevent further need to remove trees. Now, ODA is proposing to permanently ban this herbicide.  They will be holding two pubic hearings regarding the new rule.

Public Hearings: 

February 15: 6-7:30 p.m., Deschutes County Road Department, 61150 SE 27th St., Bend 

February 22: 10 a.m. to noon, basement hearings room, Oregon Department of Agriculture, 635 Capitol St. NE, Salem

At these hearings, ODA will take comment on whether to make the ban permanent.  In addition to rights-of-way, the new regulation would also permanently ban the use of ACP in wildlife management areas and other sensitive habitats. LandWatch supports this permanent ban, and we are also proposing the new regulation go further by extending the ban on using this harmful chemical to include all public lands, and all lands planned and zoned Forest or Agriculture throughout Oregon.  We encourage you to make your voice heard by attending or submitting a public comment.

In addition to the public hearings, ODA will be accepting written comments on the rule change. You can submit comments to asonnen@oda.state.or.us through February 26th.