PRESCOTT - Despite an outpouring of public support for "nontraditional" forms of weed control along Highway 179 in the Red Rocks Road Enhancement District, the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors Monday voted to hire a landscaper that uses traditional herbicides to do the job.
More than a dozen people spoke to the board at its regular meeting, asking that it not give up on the non-traditional forms of weed control. Last year, the board awarded the contract to a company that does not use herbicides, Vincente Landscaping, which would instead cut and pull the weeds out.
Supervisor Chip Davis, District 3, called that decision a "disaster," although he admitted the proliferation of weeds along the highway could be attributable to the contractor, which was told to switch to a herbicide when the weeds got out of control.
Speakers, including a doctor, said the herbicides cause respiratory problems among those sensitive to them.
Cheryl Harter, M.D., spoke against the use of herbicides and suggested that, if people are affected by them, there could be impacts to tourism. "There could be serious economic consequences, like loss of tourism, once health-conscious hikers and bikers learn of the health hazards of visiting and exercising outdoors in our area," she said.
Harter suggested legal liability issues as well. "I believe to continue the use of toxic herbicides in light of knowing about documented adverse health consequences of their use could put this county at risk of legal action by anyone harmed by the use of these herbicides," she said.
Speaker Paul Gazda listed both the warnings on a herbicide product label and hazards that accompany it, then several cities and institutions that have successfully used non-traditional weed control, such as Santa Fe, New Mexico, San Francisco, and Yale University.
Several speakers were in favor of chemical herbicides; most spoke on behalf of community organizations.
The board voted 3-0 in favor of a chemical solution to the weed problem, awarding the contract to Green Earth LC.
"We went with the non-traditional methods," and they didn't work, Davis said.
The supervisors also again rejected a low bid, this time from Landscape Magic, because the company failed to include two copies of the proposal in its bid submission, citing its "hard and fast rule" that all documentation must be turned in up-front. Landscape Magic's bid was for $53,380, compared with Green Earth LC at $59,320.