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UO Environmental Studies Students to Premier a Short Film on Pesticide Drift

“I feel inside that something is going to have to change, that something is changing,” says Beau Hansen, resident of Gold Beach, Oregon, in a film to be premiered at this year’s Public Interest Environmental Law Conference at the University of Oregon.

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James and Pamela Aldridge share their story as Lisa Arkin looks on.

On Saturday, March 7, from 2:15-3:30 p.m., residents of Cedar Valley, Oregon will join Lisa Arkin, Director of Eugene nonprofit Beyond Toxics, and University of Oregon Environmental Studies students to premier a short film about pesticide drift in a panel entitled “Just Stories: Communicating Environmental Justice.” The panel will be held in the Erb Memorial Union Oak room at the University of Oregon.

In October 2013, a helicopter spraying pesticides on private timberlands made multiple trips over a stretch of homes in Cedar Valley. Aerial spray fell on many residents directly as well as on several tributaries of the Rogue River and lands abutting the local school. In the days following, residents began reporting negative health effects. Over 45 people have come forward.

To create the film, Environmental Studies students traveled to Cedar Valley with Arkin to interview residents about their experiences and their vision for change. The film documents the aerial spray incident as well as the community’s efforts to organize locally and call for statewide community health protections.

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Lily and Ada Hansen sit beside Sandy Clinton.

To prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future, residents are calling on the state government to require buffer zones for aerial pesticide spray.

“We’re not against timber. We’re against poison,” said Cedar Valley resident, Kathryn Rickard.

Currently there are no buffer zones around homes or schools, and Oregon has significantly smaller stream buffers than other states in the Pacific Northwest.

The efforts of Cedar Valley residents to speak out about this incident helped launch bill SB 613, which was introduced to the Oregon Senate in early February. If passed, SB 613 will improve advance notification of sprays, establish protected areas where pesticide application is prohibited, and empower the Oregon Health Authority to issue penalties in the case of human exposure.

Panelists will answer questions about Cedar Valley’s ongoing organizing efforts, opportunities for participation and the collaborative process of creating the film.

If you have questions, please email aylieb [at] uoregon.edu or tchen6 [at] uoregon.edu.