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Use of Herbicides on Sedona Red Rock Scenic Byway

Sedona AZ (November 23, 2010) – The following is a Sedona Eye news Letter to the Editor from Bill Kusner as Chair of the All-American Road Committee :

These comments are submitted as an Opposing Guest Perspective by the All-American Road Committee (AARC) in response to the Guest Perspective written by Paul Gazda in the November 18, 2010 Sedona Eye. The AARC’s parent organization is Village Park Recreation, Inc. (VPRI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit AZ corporation. The AARC was formed in 2004 by a grass roots group of citizens in the Big Park/Village community to submit an application to the National Scenic Byways Program for a National Scenic Byway/All-American Road designation for (Arizona) SR 179 from milepost 302.5 to milepost 310.

The National Scenic Byways Program is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration. The Program is a grass-roots collaborative effort established to help recognize, preserve and enhance selected roads throughout the United States.

Since 1992, the National Scenic Byways Program has funded 2,832 projects for state and nationally designated byway routes in 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration recognizes certain roads as All-American Roads or National Scenic Byways based on one or more archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and scenic qualities.

Mr. Gazda’s Comments in the Sedona Eye makes numerous allegations against Yavapai County officials. At a later date, those allegations will be duly addressed.

The main issue that the AARC is addressing here is “alternative herbicides” vs. “traditional herbicides” which Mr. Gazda labels with the pejorative term “toxic pesticides” (Before continuing, we urge your readers to understand that the term “pesticides” actually refers to products that are used to eradicate animals and insects and the term “herbicides” refers to products that are used to eradicate unwanted plants, i.e. “weeds” – at no time have any pesticides been used on the All-American Road. What have been used are herbicides).

On the issue of “alternative” vs. “traditional” herbicides the AARC states the following facts:

1. The AARC recommends the use of only those herbicides that have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). There are no “alternative” herbicides that have been approved by the EPA.

2. In the May 6, 2009 Red Rock News, it was reported that the City of Sedona formally declared as a “failure” its three-year trial period of using these “alternative herbicides” on SR 89A from Upper Red Rock Loop Road to Brewer Road.

Sedona Street Superintendent Dan Neimy indicated that the use of “alternatives herbicides” had cost the City of Sedona $127,000 per year during the trial period and indicated the use of EPA-approved herbicides with other methods would cost the City $35,000 the first year and $15,000 per year after that.

According to Neimy, the use of “traditional herbicides” doesn’t just mean cost savings; it also means labor savings for the City due to the fact that regular herbicides will prevent weeds from growing back, thus freeing street crews for other duties.

3. The position of Mr. Neimy was underscored by Charles Mosley, the City of Sedona Director of Public Works/City Engineer, in a 3/19/09 email to Yavapai County Public Works Assistant Director Mike Willett when he stated that the City “…had found them (“alternative herbicides”) significantly ineffective in the high growth season and have had to use more hand labor.”

4. Mr. Gazda approached the Big Park Council in 2008 and a motion made by the Council’s Transportation Committee to send a letter to the County asking for “alternative herbicides” to be included in the enhancement maintenance bid was voluntarily withdrawn by the Committee without action being taken by the Council.

5. As far as we can determine Mr. Gazda is not a member of the NAU faculty and has no formal education qualifying him to render an authoritative opinion with regard to the use “traditional” EPA-approved or “alternative” herbicides on public or private weed control. In short, these “alternative” herbicides have been tried, have been found to not work, are more costly in the long run and are being urged upon the Big Park/Village community and the County by persons whose opinions are based upon factors other than hard science and experience controlling weeds in this environment.


Bill Kusner, Chair All-American Road Committee
Sedona AZ

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  1. Warren says:

    I would not be using the City of Sedona’s “failure” to get results with “alternative herbicides” as an example of anything except another City of Sedona failure.

    I use “alternative herbicides” around the house and get results as good as Round-Up.

    As for cost, it depends where you buy them but not too much more than Round-Up. Again, given the way the City wastes money and its general incompetency, it would not surprise me if they could not get a weed killer purchase right.

    Additionally, this article is typical establishment defensiveness. The author needs to drop the defensiveness, reread Paul Gazda’s article and learn from it. The weed control on 179 was botched, plain and simple.

    Attempting to belittle and marginalize Paul for not being a “member of the NAU faculty” and accusing him of having “no formal education qualifying him to render an authoritative opinion with regard to the use “traditional” EPA-approved or “alternative” herbicides on public or private weed control” is another totally establishment-style discrediting technique. Like only PhDs and “:recognized experts” and the politically-motivated EPA matter; you ordinary citizens don’t.

    BTW, for the record, I do not know Paul personally nor do I consider myself an environmentalist. But I do know BS when I read it.

  2. Steve Nelson says:

    I feel the commentary by Bill Kusner is clear and to the point. I personally as well as the VOCA Board of Directors fully support the position expressed by the All-American Road Committee.

  3. Bill Kusner says:

    Dear Sedona Eye – Attached is a response to the Letter from Paul Gazda. His first letter was published in the RRN on November 10, and our response was published in the RRN on November 24. Your letter from him is identical to the letter he wrote to the RRN. Please “publish” our response in the Sedona Eye to set the record straight.

    Bill Kusner
    Chair’ All-American Road Committee

  4. Dear Editor: Response to Mr. Kusner’s November 23 Letter on Red Rock Scenic Road Herbicide Use says:

    […] I would like to reply to the comments of Mr. Kusner in his letter to the editor of November 23, “Response to Use of Herbicides on Red Rock Scenic Byway.” […]

  5. Marta David says:

    I find it pathetic and totally irresponsible to use any herbisides in the Sedona or VOC areas. Not only locals but visitors and there very small children are exposed to these toxic substances. Any aware person knows that small children will often reach down and place rocks in there mouth. Does anything more need said, or perhaps we should mention that the locals and visitors alike take there drinking water from under where these herbicide leach into, ending up in compromising human health. The so called weeds and plants that are exterminated by these poisons are the very plants that visitors come hundreds of miles to admire and most locals I would guess also admire the Red Rocks and there foliage; why destroy it.

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