Oregon Regulates Herbicide Lethal To Trees

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) issued new regulations on Thursday, May 9, restricting the use of an herbicide found to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of old-growth Ponderosa Pines in the Deschutes National Forest. 

Oregon is the first state in the country to openly defy plans by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to restrict states’ ability to individually regulate herbicides beyond those already in place at the federal level. 

The herbicide in question is called Perspective, manufactured by Bayer AG. It contains aminocyclopyrachlor (ACP), a chemical with low toxicity for animals, but high toxicity for plants and the ability to move quickly through groundwater. 

In 2011, the EPA banned the DuPont product Imprelis, also containing ACP, after it was linked to thousands of tree deaths across the entire country. After DuPont’s product was banned, Bayer began manufacturing its own version, under the name Perspective. Perspective is still allowed as for roadside weed control under federal regulations. 

After the noticeable die-off of thousands of mostly old-growth pine trees along a scenic road last year and thousands of comments piling into the inbox of the Department of Agriculture, a temporary version of the rule was implemented in September 2018. The final version was originally planned to come into effect in March, but Bayer successfully filed for a 90 day delay. 

Officials at ODA are unsure of whether this move will serve as sufficient precedent for other states to follow Oregon’s lead.

By Ian MacRonald