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Judge Overturns Lincoln County Ban On Aerial Pesticides

Voters in Lincoln County narrowly approved an initiative to ban aerial pesticide spraying in 2017.
Voters in Lincoln County narrowly approved an initiative to ban aerial pesticide spraying in 2017.

A judge in Lincoln County has overturned a ban on aerial pesticide spraying.

Voters in Lincoln County narrowly approved an initiative to ban aerial pesticide spraying in 2017.
Credit Rachael McDonald / KLCC
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Voters in Lincoln County narrowly approved an initiative to ban aerial pesticide spraying in 2017.

In 2017, voters in Lincoln County narrowly approved an initiative to ban the spraying of pesticides from the air. Now, more than two years after a lawsuit was filed by opponents, Circuit Court Judge Sheryl Bachart in Newport has ruled that state law pre-empts local efforts to regulate pesticides.

Oregon's Pesticide Control Act, wrote Bachart, "expressly and conslusively displaces any local ordinance regarding pesticide use. The intention of the legislature is apparent and unambiguous."

Most of the law was in effect while Bachart considered the arguments in the case. The ruling is "heartbreaking," said Rio Davidson, a member of Lincoln County Community Rights, the grassroots group that wrote the initiative.

Davison said while the ban was in effect, most companies converted to ground-based pesticide application. But he said now, he expects "the larger corporations are going to go back to aerial spraying.”

Davidson says his group plans to appeal the ruling.

The group that formed to oppose the initiative issued a statement calling the ruling "good news."

"Pesticide use by Lincoln County’s farmers, foresters, fishermen, vegetation managers and pest control professionals is already carefully regulated by the Oregon Department of Agriculture and supporting agencies – as it should be," wote Alan Fujishin, director of the "Coalition to Defeat Measure 21-177."  

Copyright 2019 KLCC

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”