Letter to the editor: Former BLSG board member opposes district efforts

First, let me say that I normally have real respect for Angelo Lynn, the editor of the Addison Independent. However, in Thursday’s editorial, in an often nasty attack on Chris Fastie and his position on mosquito control, Mr. Lynn has many things dead wrong in what appears to be a poorly researched and heavily biased broadside on a respected local scientist.
Here are a few of the factual problems with Mr. Lynn’s editorial:
1. Contrary to Mr. Lynn’s assertions, there is extensive scientific evidence for Mr. Fastie’s position, and on request, he will talk you under the table with the details. I’ve read the articles on the Woods and Waters website. The CDC and other sources are cited there. I wonder if Mr. Lynn actually read the articles or talked to Mr. Fastie.
2. The lawsuit was originally brought against the state and the BLSG by Toxics Action. It’s about the state’s failure to enforce its own regulations (which are based in the science). The BLSG had failed to document their justifications for and various details about their spraying practice as required by law. This information details the potential impacts of spraying on water quality and wildlife. In other words, the suit is about an incomplete application, about transparency and documentation.
3. Moosalamoo Woods and Waters is a local organization primarily concerned about water quality. Some of its supporters are fisherman who became involved because permethrin and malathion, the adulticides being sprayed, are very toxic to fish.
4. Ordinary citizens and organizations often turn to nonprofit organizations like Toxics Action when they have legal problems because legal action is so horrendously expensive. The citizens who brought the suit repeatedly asked the BLSG for information and were repeatedly ignored, after which they turned to the law. Mr. Fastie did not “instigate the lawsuit.”
5. There is actually no evidence that occasional roadside spraying in open rural areas effectively controls mosquitoes. (What it may do, however, is leave us with adulticide resistant mosquitoes that could be a serious problem in case of a disease outbreak).
6. Larvicide applications, unlike adulticide spraying, are safe and very effective, a fact recognized by the BLSG, but the BLSG has tilted heavily in recent years toward adulticide spraying without oversight or accountability in violation of state regulations. The bottom line is that we should be spending money on larvicide, not spraying (except as a last resort) — and certainly not on lawyers!
7. Mr. Lawton’s wife contracted encephalitis in 1989, 22 years before encephalitis (EEE) was detected here in Vt., a fact he leaves out when he is fear mongering for his cause. The EEE deaths in Addison County were a sad surprise, but they have no relevance to local adulticide spraying. If anything, those deaths are a powerful argument for an expanded larvicide program and careful sampling and documentation to prevent another outbreak. In any case, a disease outbreak is the state’s responsibility, not the BLSG’s.
8. Mr. Lynn’s financial “facts” are fiction. The BLSG budgeted $150 last year for legal expenses. The $20,000 figure is how much they had to spend last year to pay lawyers, money that should have been spent on mosquito control. This year they budgeted about $25,000, which they are collecting by increasing their budget requests to the towns. The $25,000 number is a pie-in-the-sky guess. Also, they have no idea what the suit is really going to cost or what they’ll do if they lose, which leads to my last point….
9. The way BLSG has pursued its case: They did not inform the towns or seek their input before they committed themselves to a potentially expensive, long-running lawsuit for which we taxpayers will be responsible. Their attitude toward anyone who questions them has been arrogant and angry, which is why I resigned from their board.
10. Finally, Mr. Lynn, your apparent contempt for our town (Salisbury) reflects this same attitude. We are not too stupid to know bias when we see it; we are not dupes; and some of us have done our homework and agree with Mr. Fastie. I would suggest you do yours and then write about where you stand.
Rebecca Holmes

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