LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - New Oregon apple-protection rule absurd

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Do you have a large, beautiful maple, oak, cherry or apple tree you enjoy? If the Oregon Department of Agriculture changes the "Umatilla County Control Area" (to protect the apple industry) rule, you may be forced, at your expense, to cut your trees down if they develop one of the many pests listed in the rule change.

Yes, if it does have one of the listed pests and it is so large you would have to spray it with a helicopter, which isn't feasible for many, you will be forced to destroy it. Large trees add value to your property so if you are forced to destroy them (or the ODA authorizes someone to do so) your property value will decrease.

Your rights, as a citizen of Umatilla County, to have the plants you desire are in jeopardy. I agree with Judy M. Williams of Milton-Freewater in her letter to the editor about the ODA Plant Division proposed rule change to protect the apple industry. This proposed rule change is for all of Umatilla County, not just the apple-growing area. The idea of controlling insects in all of Umatilla County, which consists of 3,231 square miles (2,067,840 acres), to protect an area of 6.136 square miles (5,222 acres) or 0.19 percent of the county for the apple industry is absurd.

Further, the additional insects being added for control include some that have no known or effective control methods, spotted wing drosphila (a fruit fly) or pacific flathead borer for example. If you cannot control these insects you will be ordered to cut down the offending plant(s) and treat any re-sprouting. Some of the insects stated in the rule are everywhere and may or may not be an eminent threat to the apples.

In addition, the list of plants includes many native plants such as mountain ash, hawthorn, elderberry, bearberry (kininnick) blueberry (huckleberry), poplar (cottonwood) strawberry, alder, maple, cherry (chokecherry, bittercherry) and willow. Many riparian restoration projects that include these native plants could possibly have to be destroyed because spraying near water is not recommended for many pesticides.

The additional non-native plants cited include all apples, cherry, pear, apricot, peaches, plums, prunes caneberry, nectarine, elm, oak and grapes. The vineyards need to pay close attention to this rule change because they will also be under this new rule.

Please join me in objecting to the rule change by commending to the ODA Plant Division before Sept. 1.

Sandy Ott
Pendleton

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