Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Say NO to aerial spraying in Ely


The aerial spraying of Ely with an unknown (knowing one ingredient in the concoction hardly suffices) chemical composition is a bureaucratic decision to maintain a bureaucracy in spite of their over 100 year failure to stop gypsy moths. Usually when any severe problem persists, thinking people change the questions they are asking and the plan of attack. Not so with governmental agencies intertwined with pesticide producing chemical companies. They shift to a non-solution called “Slow the Spread” and continue the costly battle with more pesticides, decreasing the health of the environment and non-targeted residents, including important pollinators and humans. That maintains the bureaucracy.

Our Ely City Council has chosen to ignore the situation of aerial spraying. They have had no known or public discussions about the aerial spraying and certainly as a whole they have ignored the hundreds of Ely residents who are adamantly against the spraying. I received no reply to multiple emails with reference materials and suggestions sent to the Council. One council member said that he didn’t read those emails. One council member did reply to one individual opposed to the spraying. The reply stated that from his “research” he was ok with the spraying. It is highly doubtful that there was any science in that research. It is more likely that few on the council even know about scientific methods. Scientific Method is more about questions and continually questioning and testing one’s beliefs and theories. Not common at City Hall.

There certainly are more questions than answers about aerial spraying and the Ely City Council is negligent in their head-in-the sand attitude toward it and its effects on Ely and its residents. The Ely City Council should be our first line of defense. In this case, they are not even third or fourth. It’s as if they have totally abandoned us. I hope the good citizens of Ely will remember this come election time. The present Council members do not deserve our support. They should have at the very least publicly debated and answered any and all questions posed about the issue, even the ones the Minnesota Department of Agriculture has continually dodged.

One key ingredient, totally ignored by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Ely City Council, is the susceptibility of a large group of Ely residents to toxic unknown chemicals. Every toxicology student knows there are three important factors in determining the effect of a particular toxic agent. The toxicity of the agent (how toxic is it), the amount of exposure to the agent, and the susceptibility of the person exposed. The presenters, from the beginning have stressed a low toxicity for this pesticide. In all presentations, even the representative of the MN Dept. of Health at the last City Hall presentation, the factor of the susceptibility of residents has been either ignored or downplayed as insignificant. The susceptibility of residences IS the MAIN factor in this unknown chemical brew.

Add to this, the fact that there is NO infestation, there is NO need for aerial spraying, and there IS every reason to study our unique area for gypsy moths’ actual presence and population. They are losing an excellent opportunity to learn about the gypsy moth’s life cycle in Ely’s sub-arctic clime while educating the public about how to prevent the spread, which is mostly by human transport.

Another important fact, neglected in all presentations so far, is that when the gypsy moth does get here, as it inevitably will, the mortality of affected trees varies dependent on the health of the trees and the forest. In a healthy forest 10-15 percent loss is expected. In an unhealthy forest up to 35 percent mortality could occur. Rather than spending millions of dollars on futile and polluting pesticide campaigns, maybe the Dept. of Agriculture should concentrate on campaigns that make our forests healthier and more able to withstand the inevitable arrival of their nemesis. As climate change occurs over the next few decades and weakens our existing northland forests, making them more susceptible to the gypsy moth, it could be argued that it would actually be better to have the gypsy moth arrive earlier rather than later. By the way, you do know don’t you that the east coast is still where it has always been, even after true infestations of gypsy moths?

Again, Say No to Aerial Spraying of Ely. If you haven’t yet, you can still sign the petition on Also, tell the Ely City Council to stop the aerial spraying. Tom Coombe reported earlier in the Echo that Kimberly Cremers said the Ely City Council has the power to stop it. She has no legal right to put any limitations on the power of the Ely City Council to stop this travesty. All they have to do is wake up and tell the Department of Agriculture, No Aerial Spraying of Pesticides over Ely!

Richard Watson

Ely, Minn.


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