Approval of Measure V in Mendocino County ends ‘hack and squirt’

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A controversial ballot measure that would put a wrench in the longstanding timber-management practice of poisoning hardwood trees to make way for conifers was passed by voters Tuesday night.

Support for Measure V had garnered about 60 percent of the vote. The vote was 6,365 in favor and 4,249 against.

Measure V is aimed at limiting the practice of poisoning unwanted hardwood trees, then leaving them to die in the forest. The practice is referred to as “hack and squirt” because it entails making a cut in a tree, then applying herbicide to the wound.

The measure declares it a nuisance to kill and leave standing for more than 90 days trees that are over 16 feet tall. It makes the person or agency responsible liable for damages the practice may cause to structures, water sources and telecommunication lines within 3,300 feet of the dead trees.

Proponents of the ballot measure say the practice has escalated in recent years, creating a dangerous fire hazard by leaving millions of dead trees standing in Mendocino County forests. Timber officials from Mendocino Redwood Company, the primary target of the ordinance, contend the fire hazard alleged by the measure’s proponents is overblown.

They say the practice of killing hardwoods, like tan oak, is crucial to restoring previously overcut and mismanaged forests to conifer production.

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