It’s been a long journey, but it looks like we are almost done passing a bill to ban the County’s usage of synthetic herbicides, Bill 101. The final hearing is set for 9am on November 20th and is being held at the Kona council chambers. Chemical industry, and chemical farming talking points were made against the bill by several testifiers in the last hearing, yet the bill still passed first reading of the Council 8-1. Tim Richards was the only “no” vote. It should be noted that this bill does not affect agriculture, while this was the main talking point of those opposed to the bill. Matt Kleinfelder expressed additional concerns about the use of neonicitinoids – a class of pesticides that is not covered bill but is of no doubt a serious concern with the health of bees and other wildlife.
Also, of note, the bill was passed as amended to include an exemption for the Big Island Invasive Species Council and others to continue to do their important work of invasive tree control, without having to apply for an emergency pest exemption through the process already provided for in the bill.
Please send in testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org or show up in Kona or any of the videoconferencing sites to testify. We expect that the chemical ag proponents will come out in force, since this is the final vote. We need a solid show of support. Additional to that you are also encouraged to testify on the options available that the county could use for weed management/ replacement. We know that many of you have first-hand knowledge of the plant ecology in your particular area of the island, and this could be helpful information for the county. Also, if this passes, we will need qualified community members to volunteer for the Transition Commission. Please consider applying if you feel qualified under the provisions of the bill.
In general, to support this legislation (besides testifying) some ideas for community help are:
1. Have a background in herbicide-free landscape management and would like to sit on the transition committee OR help with the transition at your neighborhood park
2. Are a parent, or a kids sports coach that can teach your playgroup or sports team how to spend a few minutes pulling weeds on your field.
3. Have ideas or resources that will help our public works crews manage the weed growth on county roads.
Bill 101 fact sheet:
🌱Bill 101 bans the use of herbicides by “the county” on County-owned lands.
🌱Bill 101 does not prohibit herbicide use on any privately owned or state land, including agriculture, landscaping or home care activities.
🌱Since Bill 101 only applies to herbicide use by “the county” on county-owned lands, it allows for herbicide use on county-owned agricultural lands that are leased to private individuals. It also allows for herbicide use by entities like Big Island Invasive Species Committee, even on county-owned land, as BIISC employees are not “the county.”
🌱It completely exempts the direct application of herbicides through cut stump or incision point injection, which will allow for the continued use of herbicide to control things like albizia.
🌱We recognize that the County itself doesn’t really do long term invasive species eradication, but if it ever does, they will be covered in the section that allows for a temporary exemption from the council. I have spent time with various invasive species eradication agencies, and recognize that strategic use of herbicides, when it’s a small part of a long term plan, especially in reforestation work, should be allowed. At the moment, county agencies are generally not using herbicides as part of a long term eradication plan, but when they do, this waiver section will allow for that.
🌱A Vegetation Management Transition Committee will be established to monitor, educate and assist county staff and the public about alternative weed management practices. If you have experience or knowledge in one of the following fields, please consider applying to sit on this committee: Native Hawaiian plants, tropical horticulture, agroforestry, silviculture, organic landscape, permaculture, natural farming or weed science. Applications will be taken at a later time, but if you want to send a quick email to the County Council letting them know what skills you have to offer, it might let them and the departments know just how many resources we have on island to support the departments through this transition.
Testimony in support is needed NOW – prior to the hearing in Kona at 9am on November 20, 2019 Email email@example.com