Monday, May 5, 2008

Sonoma Quarantined

To see the quarantine boundaries, click map to enlarge

Sonoma hit with apple moth quarantine



A 15-square mile area, including hundreds of Sonoma Valley homes and 2,500 surrounding acres of wine grapes, has come under state quarantine in an effort to eradicate the light brown apple moth from Sonoma County.

State agricultural officials Monday announced the boundaries of the quarantine area, which takes in parts of western Sonoma, El Verano, Boyes Hot Springs and Agua Caliente. The action follows the finding of a second apple moth last month in an area between Verano Avenue and Agua Caliente Road.

The quarantine means that grape growers, nurseries and other plant-related businesses in the quarantine area are subject to what state officials call “extensive inspection” and, in some cases, treatment if their properties are found to be infested.

Also, the state forbids residents from taking home-grown fruit, vegetables, plants, flowers outside of the quarantine area.

“We recognize it’s a challenge and a sacrifice,” said Steve Lyle, a spokesman for the California Department of Food and Agriculture.

But he said the apple moth can feed on 2,000 different types of plants, including “most if not everything people have in their yards.”

The moth, a native of Australia, was first detected in California in February 2007 and since has been detected in most of the Bay Area. The state and federal governments have undertaken a $75 million eradication plan that relies largely on aerial spraying of a synthetic pheromone designed to disrupt the moth’s mating cycle.

However, in Sonoma County the state likely will first place pheromone-scented twist ties in the quarantine area. Before that happens, Lyle said affected residents will receive a written notification and invitation to a public meeting to learn more about the eradication efforts.

A map of the quarantine boundaries can be seen at:

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Plans for pesticides halted

Golden Gate Press
by Saira Masood, staff producer
May 5, 2008 12:45 PM


The State of California decided to halt the LBAM pesticide spraying in Santa Cruz and delay the spraying scheduled for this summer.

Officials are postponing the spraying until they have gathered more evidence about the affects of the chemicals.

Residents were able to express to the California Department of Food and Agriculture their stance on the pesticides at a meeting held last February in Oakland.

Maxine Ventura said she has been battling with pesticides since her children were born. She raised her family in Sonoma Valley, a place heavily polluted with pesticide spraying. At the age of three, her youngest daughter was covered in lesions and her eyes filled with puss from the fumes.

“Conventional agriculture has ruined our state,” said Ventura, a member of the East Bay Pesticide Alert.

“My children and I now have multiple chemical sensitivity from living on the vineyards, and we can’t let this happen to other people,” she said.

Multiple chemical sensitivity is a severe allergy to unnatural pollutants.

“The State Department should have no free pass to go on with this spray that will affect thousands of people,” said Eleanor Loined, a resident of Richmond.

The council was listening to the public to put an environmental impact report together.

The CDFA believed that if action was not taken immediately the moths could ruin crops in Northern California. If the LBAM overpopulates, then it could endanger over 250 plants.

LBAM is native to Hawaii and Australia, was found in March of 2007 by a retired entomologist from Berkeley, according to the CDFA. Since the discovery of the LBAM the state has already sprayed pesticides in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties in June through September of 2007.

The CDFA wants to use checkmate, a pesticide that has been tested on plants and animals, but not humans. It does not kill the moth, but instead disrupts the mating cycle. The male becomes confused and cannot locate the female moth.

The Hawaii Department of Agriculture said that LBAM is considered a bio-control agent for serious invasive species. A bio-control agent is a plant or animal that naturally prevents another species from overpopulating through competition for food or shelter, or by feeding on them.

“I would rather live with the apple moth than have pesticides sprayed on me,” said Amy Coulter, a resident living in the Bay Area.

“What I see in a perfect fruit is that a pesticide hasn’t been sprayed on it,” she added.

Scientist studying LBAM think that the moth was introduced to California by commercial flights to and from Australia and Hawaii. To help reduce the population of moths, the USDA is proposing stringent regulation of imports from these two countries.

The panel revealed to the audience that although the environmental impact report is going to reflect the public’s opinions on the spray, the report is due to come out after the spraying resumes.

“Why are you asking for comments if the decision's already been made?” said Lorraine Smith, a teacher living in the Bay Area.

Although the impact report did not come out in time to directly affect the state's decision, the government still decided to delay the spraying.

E-mail Saira Masood at

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Over the years my opinions have changed but this will never change: Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior, died on the cross and rose from the dead to pay for my sin.