Friends of the Bitterroot

FOB Logo
Bitteroot Mountains
Bitterroot Mountains
Bitteroot Mountains
Bitterroot Mountains

Weed Control Principles:

Friends of the Bitterroot Organizational Position

* The stated purpose and goals of policies, plans, and programs should be to prevent further spread of invasive species, to prevent impacts from existing infestations, and to restore the land's resistance to exotic species.

* Policies, plans and programs should articulate a 100-year vision of how the public and the Forest Service wants National Forest lands to be, in terms of ecosystem health and invasive species, at a region-wide, landscape level. This vision should detail what steps need to be taken to get there in project-planning, and thus, should "back-cast" from the desired long-range future condition.

* Policies, plans and programs should examine the nature and causes of invasive species establishment and spread. Consideration should be given to all soil disturbing activities, which would include logging, road construction and reconstruction, regular and off-road motorized vehicle use, and livestock grazing. Such "root causes" should be clearly identified in policies, plans and programs with respect to their role in invasive species' spread.

* Policies, plans and programs should focus equally on prevention, treatment, and restoration.

* The focus on prevention should result in a reduction in the root causes of species invasions.

* Policies, plans and programs should identify damage thresholds for restricting and prohibiting particular activities at the site-specific level, which contribute to the spread of invasive species.

* Policies, plans and programs should direct National Forests to reduce their reliance on herbicides through prevention, reliance on natural processes and pre-project planning (e.g., not thinning beyond certain thresholds of canopy cover). Herbicides should be used only as a last resort and only in the context of prevention and restoration such that a treadmill of chemical treatments and re-treatments will not occur.

* NEPA documents pertaining to new policies, plans and programs should have an alternative that focuses on prevention and restoration and involves restricting and prohibiting activities that are known to be causing weed invasions or are not being monitored.

* Off-road vehicle (ORV) trails should be closed unless posted open.

* Motorized travel should be limited to designated travel routes.

* Cross-country motorized travel should not be allowed.

* If no monitoring or insufficient monitoring of invasive species infestations is occurring on ORV travel routes, then use should be curtailed.

* If enforcement of ORV travel is not occurring to insure that users are remaining on designated routes, then use should be curtailed.

* ORV use should not be allowed in Wilderness areas, wilderness study areas, or roadless areas.

* There should be no distinction made between cars, trucks and ORVs, because there is essentially no difference in their on-the-ground impacts with respect to invasive species spread.

* There should be no logging on sites with extensive invasive species' infestations.

*There should be consideration of the value in retiring livestock allotments as they become vacated to prevent the spread of invasive species.

* Livestock grazing should be restricted in areas infested with weeds, and prohibited in areas where prevention, control and restoration efforts have occurred.

Precautionary Principles

The risk assessment procedures that have been used by government EIS analysts are beginning to give way to precautionary principles.:

Science has no way to analyze the effects of multiple exposures, and almost all modern humans are routinely subjected to multiple exposures: pesticides; automobile exhaust; dioxins in meat, fish and dairy products; prescription drugs; tobacco smoke; food additives; ultraviolet sunlight passing through the earth's damaged ozone shield; and so on. Determining the cumulative effect of these insults is a scientific impossibility; so most risk assessors simply exclude these inconvenient realities. But the resulting risk assessment is bogus.

Risk assessment is inherently an undemocratic process because most people cannot understand the data, the calculations, or the basis for the risk assessor's judgment.

Now after 20 years, the public is catching on, that risk assessment has been a failure and in many cases a scam. Rather than allowing citizens to reach agreement on what's best, it has provided a patina of "scientific objectivity" that powerful corporations have used to justify continued contamination of the environment. With a few rare exceptions (sulfur dioxide emissions, for example) dangerous discharges have increased geometrically during the period when risk assessment has been the dominant mode of decision-making. It is now obvious to most people that risk assessment is a key part of the problem, not an important part of any solution.

In place of risk assessment, a new paradigm is ripening: the principle of precautionary action. The precautionary principle acknowledges that we are ignorant about many important aspects of the environment and human health. It acknowledges scientific uncertainty and guides our actions in response to it.

The precautionary principle says, 'When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof. The process of applying the Precautionary Principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.'

Certainly, this method of protecting public interests should be incorporated into invasive species management.