Whitesburg KY

Weed sprays, trash harming us

To the Editor:

I recently hiked a portion of the Pine Mountain Trail, and I noticed how few people used it. Only about half-mile out the trail is a huge arch, and I wondered why I’d never heard about it.

Another very nice trail is the Red Fox Trail. It is well marked with interpretive signs along the way, telling of the Killing Rocks Ambush, the old railroad station, and the hermit who towed cars up the mountain with his mules. It starts at Pound Gap and terminates near the railroad tunnel on the Pound side. It’s a short, downhill walk and well worth the time.

The most spectacular hike in the county is Raven Rock above Jenkins. I’ve often wondered why it is kept from the public. It would be perfect for a welcome center.

There are two things making this county ugly: litter and defoliant. Two types of defoliant have been used, 2, 4-D Amine and glyphosate (Roundup). It is used in concentrations seven times as strong as recommended. It is deadly poisonous to plants and animals, non-biodegradable, and goes directly into your water supply. None of the water plants are capable of removing this poison from our drinking water. No independent studies have been done, other than its manufacturer, Monsanto.

I brought this to the attention of the Letcher County Fiscal Court at a time when they could have stopped it, but like most everything else, it fell on deaf ears. At that time, the Kentucky Highway Department had killed several of my neighbors’ gardens and about 25 feet of my yard. I tried to get a warrant, but County Attorney Jamie Hatton refused, stating it was not illegal to dump poison on my yard and destroy my property.

The worst damage caused by these defoliants is to our highways and bridges. It is not sprayed along the edge of the road, but several yards up on the hillside and over the hill. Without vegetation, the hillside erodes into the ditches, which are never cleaned, then rainwater crosses the road, washing away the lower side of the road where there’s no vegetation left to hold the soil. A perfect example is the road between Neon and Kona. Everywhere you see the road broken off you will see the barren, eroded hillside across the road. The road will be intact where the hillside is still lush and green.

The spraying also exposes the litter in our county, which is never picked up. I live a mile from where I was born at Millstone and in my 70 years I have seen litter picked up once. My neighbors work hard to keep our road clean in front of their houses. Gail, Ben, John, Kathy, Paul, Robert, Jeff, Perry, Suzie, Shawn, Tim, and many others, to you go my thanks.

We recently picked up 109 bags of garbage from my home to Kona, and it was obvious the damage the spray was doing. The little A-frame at Kona has English Ivy covering his hillside and it is beautiful, but the lower eight to 10 feet has been killed by highway department spray and the hillside is slipping away. Nothing will grow there and there is nothing the owners can do about it.

From Jim McAuley’s to Millstone you can see how pretty and green the roadside is where it has not been sprayed, and how barren and desolate the spray area is. You will see the barren areas behind the grass along the edge of the road.

The Kona bridge nearly washed out because of this, and the old Mayking bridge is doing the same. You have to ask yourself, “Who is selling this stuff to the state?”

Follow the money. If only three of our laws were enforced we could be a tourist attraction overnight — the derelict car and house ordinance and the spraying of this poison on us by the Kentucky Highway Department and EQT.

It looks as if we may have all new faces in the fiscal court. Let’s hope we can work with them for a change. In the meantime my neighbors and I will attempt to keep our little town presentable and hope others will do the same if they see it is no longer a lost cause.


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