BLSG drives their spray trucks along the entire length of private driveways and sprays pesticides. They have defended their authority to do this uninvited, unannounced, and without permission. Not all driveways are sprayed, and choosing which ones get sprayed appears to be left to the whim of the driver.
Last summer, a BLSG truck sprayed the driveway of Dennis Reisenweaver of Brandon. The next day he noticed that all of the honey bees in his beehive were dead. At a Select Board meeting in Brandon last month, Mr. Reisenweaver told this story to Ben Lawton, the chairman of the BLSG Board of Directors: “I lost a hive of honey bees. I had the State come out and they took samples and they told me that it was because of the spraying. So, I’m wondering why they come up private driveways. Why not just stay on the town roads?”
Dr. Lawton’s response was, “We have both a commercial and a public license so that we can spray private roads under the public license.” He continued to avoid Mr. Reisenweaver’s question by suggesting that Mr. Reisenweaver was at fault for not requesting that his property be posted: “The procedure to opt out from spraying annually is in our report when we put it in the newspaper in April before we start the season.”
Mr. Reisenweaver was still perplexed by this policy: “I don’t understand why they come up private driveways, that’s a concern. And the state did not either, they said they considered that trespassing.” Dr. Lawton never addressed this question but instead pivoted to: “I have studies that have put the pesticides that we use in with bees and it hasn’t killed them. So I don’t know what the situation was, but I do have studies to that effect from EPA.”
So BLSG’s official response to the question of why they spray private driveways without permission is 1) Nobody has the authority to stop us, 2) It’s your job to protect yourself from us, and 3) We’re not very good at science or logic.
The pesticides sprayed along public roads, private lanes, and private driveways in the BLSG District kill hundreds of species of insects other than mosquitoes. If you don’t want this happening on your property, your only recourse is to opt out of roadside spraying.
Even if you opt out of spraying, BLSG will spray right up to your property line. So if you have a small property or if your house or garden is near a property corner, it helps when your neighbors opt out as well.
BLSG seems to be refusing to accept requests to opt out via email, so you might be required to put your letter and a map of your property in an envelope and mail it. You can get a free copy of your property map and see the opt out procedure here: http://mwwvt.org/tax-maps/. Your map will be emailed to you within a day or so, and you should submit your request to BLSG before mid-April.
The response I would expect from a reasonably managed BLSG would be to immediately:
- End its policy of spraying private driveways without permission.
- Begin accepting opt-out requests by email.
- Stop spraying pesticides within 200 feet of properties which are opted out.
Making these changes would not require additional effort or cost for BLSG and instead would save them time and materials. And it would suggest that there is at least a hint of willingness to work with the community they serve.