To the Editor:
The board members of Sustainable West Milford would like to publicly thank Mayor Michele Dale and the West Milford Township Council for standing with us when we and other county residents asked the County of Passaic to stop spraying Ranger Pro, the commercial and less expensive form of Roundup, on our county roads.
We want to thank the Passaic County Freeholders and administration as well for listening to our concerns.
With the help of our mayor we were able to finally bring Passaic County to the table and we were able to negotiate with the county administration to stop the spraying in 2020.
We understand that “It is in the public interest of the State of New Jersey to ensure that the roadsides in New Jersey are safe.”
Passaic County has said that spraying is cheaper than mowing.
However, the long term health risks associated with glyphosate based products are of grave concern.
The long term health of the environment and the residents are at risk.
The employees who spray Ranger Pro are in direct risk.
It is most incredible that poison has been sprayed in the Highlands Water Protection and Planning area much less anywhere else in the county.
West Milford and Ringwood are entirely within the preservation zone of the Highlands Region and the stewards of the watershed and reservoirs which supply water to millions of New Jerseyans.
Most residents of West Milford rely on ground water.
Herbicides are poisonous chemicals that are used to kill unwanted plants.
Most of the original research to determine the safety of glyphosate based products were conducted over 30 years ago.
Current independent studies now indicate that glyphosate based products may cause health problems including rhinitis, kidney disease, endocrine disruption and non- hodgkins lymphoma.
Glyphosate has been found in the urine of those who have been exposed to this substance.
We don’t know the safe level of exposure to these herbicides in humans.
Approximately 30 countries have already banned, are limiting the use of or looking into banning or limiting use of glyphosate based products.
Over 18,000 people in the USA have filed suits claiming that their Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma was due to extended exposure to Round Up.
Three cases have already gone to trial and the plaintiffs were awarded $2,369,000,000, although the awards will most likely be reduced.
Glyphosate can be environmentally destructive.
Longer than expected half-life and slow degradation of the soil by these products may increase the risk of long-term environmental contamination.
Glyphosate has also been found in streams, lakes and other bodies of water including ground water.
Studies have shown that glyphosate breakdown also increases problems of algal bloom in water bodies.
The North Jersey District Water Supply Commission, which oversees the operation of the largest regional water supply in the State of New Jersey, does not use herbicides.
A most recent study also links glyphosate to monarch butterfly decline.
The Milkweed plant is vital for the survival of the monarch butterfly and it is believed that Round Up is to blame for the destruction of milkweed.
Glyphosate doesn't discriminate between desirable and undesirable plants.
Our county roads currently look like scorched earth, which happens when herbicides are sprayed.
The damaged soil often ends up eroding and washing away into the storm drains or blocking the drains, not allowing rainwater to flow into the storm drains.
Many of these areas also accumulate lots of litter.
Instead of spraying poison on our roads, with the help of Passaic County, we should be planting low lying indigenous perennials that attract pollinators and butterflies.
Native plants are best adapted to New Jersey’s climate and growing conditions and able to survive the stresses of road right-of-ways.
It would minimize necessary roadside maintenance, eventually cutting costs.
The rainwater that runs off the roads would result in reduced soil erosion, flood control and cleaner water supplies.
The plants would serve as living snow fences catching snow rather than letting it drift on the roads.
It will make the roads look more attractive to the community and more welcoming to visitors.
It will support local farmers who cultivate and sell native plant seeds and wildflowers. It could control invasive plants from spreading.
This growing season, our board members and other residents will help West Milford to monitor the roads to see where vegetation impedes vision and mowing is needed and where low lying plants would create a welcoming and safe environment.
We continue to strive to make West Milford a healthy and sustainable community.
Renee Bettini Allessio,
Sustainable West Milford