A scientific and sensible response to a half-baked politically motivated plan

The Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy has just sent Chairman Scott York (R-At Large) this very well-argued response to the all-Republican Loudoun Board’s inane plan to spray pesticides in nature preserves and parks under the woefully misinformed premise it will have any effect whatsoever in preventing Lyme disease:

Dear Supervisor York,

As you can imagine, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy is concerned with the Board of Supervisors’ plan to spray pesticides in our local parks, especially at Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve which was recently certified as a Monarch Waystation and a County-level example of a healthy habitat through the Audubon at Home program.

Spraying pesticides in a nature preserve should not occur. It violates the intent of establishing this place as a wildlife habitat. In the least, we request that you remove Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve from your targeted list and we will commit to working with Banshee Reeks staff in educating visitors on effective approaches that reduce the likelihood of contracting Lyme disease.

We oppose spraying in the Parks in general not only because we believe it is an ineffective approach to addressing Lyme disease but also because we are concerned that the plan to spray may not be based on sound data or analysis and it will provide people with a false sense of security.

We would like to receive the full set of data from the tick collection survey that was performed in the County parks. We have read the report produced by Dr.Goodfriend and have questions about the data and some of the conclusions reached.

Additionally, we would like to know the following:
– What methodology was used to select locations in the parks to spray
– What citizen data was used to select the Parks for spraying (i.e. what are the correlations between people getting Lyme and the Parks selected)
– What method will be used to apply the pesticides
– What is the frequency with which pesticides will be applied
– What is the total amount of pesticides that will be applied in each park
– What protocol will be followed for the pesticide application
– How is citizen data being collected to determine the degree of the Lyme disease problem in Loudoun and what is the statistical confidence of that data

Ultimately, we would like to see the Board cancel the contract to spray. However, in the event that the County does proceed, we would like to know what steps the Board is going to take to measure the impact of the spraying, both in terms of how the Board plans to measure the degree to which spraying results in a reduction of Lyme disease in the County, and the environmental impact of the spraying on pollinators and other wildlife in all of the Parks.

We look forward to your response, especially given that the plan to spray pesticides is planned to start this week.

Sincerely,

Nicole Hamilton
President, Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy

Not at all coincidentally, the Board offered virtually no warning or notice of its spraying schedule. It first posted the news last Wednesday that spraying was scheduled to begin the following day. Banshee Reeks was scheduled to have been sprayed yesterday, but the spraying was postponed due to the rain.

The revised schedule remains a more closely guarded secret than what Scott York knew about Eugene Delgaudio’s finagling of his office staff and funds for personal gain.

This of course is one way to deal with the citizens: just keep them in the dark until it’s too late to complain.

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