Brash Control

Illustration by Ricky King

Recently I have noticed in a few news reports that the provincial government has decided to use a chemical (named as Agent White) fir brush control. I am sad that some people still believe that using chemical herbicides (for cosmetic, pesticide, and herbicidal use) is a good idea.

The stuff is poisonous! Why on earth would you want that to get into the water supply (to kill the fishes, or we’ll just eat some Agent White marinated fish), or into the diet of animals (like moose, or smaller animals), which humans are then going to eat. These types of chemicals are fat soluble meaning they build up the higher you are in the food chain and guess who is at the top of the food chain-US!

Not only that but components of many herbicides, including Agent White, include known carcinogens (and did I mention they are just poisonous? And can cause organ failure?) If the things are so nasty why would you want to risk any exposure to that, especially when there are alternatives. Also, think of the poor person that has to apply these chemicals, sure they are probably going to be wearing a body suit and mask, but I’m sure that isn’t going to protect them 100%. And, if they have to wear a suit to lay it down, um, isn’t that a bad sign?

What about money? The herbicide will probably be pretty cheap in comparison to other methods of brush control (at first). But, it won’t last forever and then more will have to be purchased and the procedure repeats. With insects, they build up resistance, so presumably the plants (which are pretty hardy buggers) that are strongest (survival of the fittest, remember that concept from elementary school?) will survive and harsher/more concentrated chemicals will have to be used next time, which means more money. Why would a large chemical company want to sell you something that just has to be applied once? So, in the long run it probably isn’t cheaper.

Here’s a few suggestions (I’m sure there are a million more): cut the brush with machinery/man power, plant lower growing plants to out compete larger view obscuring plants, put up animal proof fences, and provide animal corridors in high risk areas. Apparently since developing the oil there is money coming into Newfoundland, so why can’t it be used to benefit the people that live here? So what if the initial cost is higher than herbicides, isn’t spending a bit of extra money (initially) better than harming the natural beauty of the province and the wonderful people who live here? Also, chemicals won’t be cheaper if the recreational fishery is affected (no salmon in the streams), and in additional health care costs.

I can’t cover every angle here. But, in my view all the signs point to: Morons in control of my tax dollars.

Rant by Me


  1. lucifer.rising · September 9, 2011

    have you ever driven past these guys spraying the sides of the highway with your car windows down? i have. i couldn’t breath properly for a good 5 mins afterward, i was coughing and i could taste the chemicals! they should put up warning signs in advance for passing motorists! so thanks for the free dose NFLD i probably have cancer now :D

  2. D · September 9, 2011

    FYI; the problem is alder bushes and they’ll grow through and over everything else you suggested in planting lower plants to out-compete them.

    Moose like alders.

    You missed the point entirely why they have no choice but to do this. You can tear up the soil and do all those things, but a full stand of alder bushes will grow from nothing to 6-8 feet tall in a year.

  3. Me · September 9, 2011

    They really ought to put up signs, so people can put up their windows or pick an alternate route. I noticed they posted the times they were planning to spray different sections online, but due to weather etc. I am sure some of those dates and times changed.

    To combat alders they could put up fences like they do in other maritime provinces, that way moose wandering on to the road is less likely or impossible. Actually, putting up fences seems better in other ways too, even if they reduce (in ways that don’t use harsh chemicals!) the brush alongside the road moose will still be able to wander out. Fences could stop that.

  4. D · September 9, 2011

    I wonder what it costs to put thousands of kilometers of 10-foot tall chainlink all over the island, and just how durable it is.

    The answer is most certainly neither cheap nor tough enough.

  5. D · September 9, 2011

    And then one of you lot will complain how ugly it all is anyway.

  6. Me · September 9, 2011

    I don’t remember finding the fences they had up in some of the other maritime provinces particularly ugly. I am sure there would be a way to make it more aesthetically pleasing, if it was thought through properly. Since they aren’t spraying along every road, all over the province, I hardly think that they would put up fences “all over the island”.

    I also made a few other suggestions in the rant. Putting down pesticides isn’t a leave it and forget it process either, as the plants will grow back and it will have to be reapplied. I don’t think there is one easy solution that can be used in this case (maybe using more than one method), but a little ingenuity and forward thinking wouldn’t hurt the province. There must be a better alternative to the use of a harmful herbicide (tordon 101, to correct myself in the rant, however it is related to agent white).

    I wouldn’t mind knowing what group “you lot is”, I need to send in my money for my yearly subscription.

  7. Me · September 9, 2011

    Also, in reply to the comment about alder bushes growing 6-8 feet in a year, I want to know where you are getting that information from. On the Avalon we have primarily alder bushes, which I believe usually don’t grow that tall or that fast.

  8. D · September 9, 2011

    I work in geological and mineral exploration, so we cut a lot of alder bushes year after year to access mineral prospects. I spend a lot more time working right in the thick of them in a month than most people spend anywhere near them in a year.

    You can cut them down but they come back worse than weeds.
    “You believe” they don’t grow that fast; “I watch” them grow that fast.

    Where do *you* get *your* information from?

    Also FYI, on the Avalon we primarily have stunted balsam fir. You’re obviously not a biologist or botanist.

  9. Me · September 9, 2011

    Actually, I think you are right about the height that Alder Bushes can grow to (3m in height). However, when I said we had primarily Alder Bushes, I was referring to the fact that on the Avalon we have Mountain Alder, but not Speckled Alder (which is bigger). Speckled Alder is mostly absent from the Avalon. I wasn’t talking about the dominant tree! It was a bit unclear in my response.

    I am going to try and find out tomorrow about how quickly Mountain Alder grows. I am willing to admit that I may be wrong about the speed that Mountain Alder grows, but I would be very surprised if it grew 6-8 feet in year.

    I am looking at a book by A. Glen Ryan called Trees and Shrubs of Newfoundland and Labrador. Really the conversation about Alder growth is not especially relevant to my rant, but for my own interest/peace of mind I am going to try to find out the answer. :)

  10. K · September 9, 2011

    So why not just repeat manual removal every year? Yes, it’s more expensive, but preserving the health of the populace is important. Also, it’s local job creation. This just seems like the wrong answer, a conclusion jumped to by people who haven’t read up on Agent White or don’t understand what the consequences actually mean.

  11. K · September 9, 2011

    I’m beginning to think D has stock in the chemical supplier’s company.

  12. D · September 9, 2011

    I don’t.
    But so what if I did?

    Your suggestion that this would create jobs is a charity case at best only serving to create minimum wage seasonal McJobs so whoever involved can get their EI hours.

    Your posts are a joke.