Plan to spray near Yosemite draws fire
GROVELAND, Calif. – A U.S. Forest Service plan to spray herbicides over nearly 1,200 acres near Yosemite National Park is drawing fire from environmentalists and American Indians.
The Forest Service plans to use helicopters to spray in the Stanislaus National Forest to kill brush encroaching on an area west of Yosemite that burned in 1987. The service then wants to burn the dead brush and replant it as a conifer forest.
The service says the brush has grown too high for hand-spraying and the terrain is too steep for mechanical shredders to operate.
But the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center and the California Indian Basketweavers Association say the spraying isn’t necessary. They are appealing the forest managers’ proposal to spray, which was adopted earlier this month. The spraying is planned for late spring.
The groups say the herbicide glyphosate – the active ingredient in the common garden and farming herbicide Roundup – will kill plants that Indians use for food, baskets and ceremonial activities, as well as plants that provide good habitat for wildlife.
John Buckley of the Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center objected to replacing the brush and other plants with what he termed a tree “plantation” to support future timber logging.
“They insist they want a healthy forest for wildlife,” Buckley told the Stockton Record, “but to kill off many square miles of existing forest and set it back 17 years is not healthy for wildlife.”