Friday, January 11, 2013

Emergency Cleanup of 150 acres

Speech to Grants Pass City Council, December 1, 2010 

            Last Tuesday, I saw a video on RVTV Channel 14 about Abandoned Orchards, and spoke to the Commissioners about it and the City’s River Road Reserve, where 150 acres of pears have been abandoned by the City since we bought the land in 2006.   This Council and our Commissioners should watch this video, which is now available on RVTV’s website,, under “Video on Demand.” 
According to this video, those trees should have been torn out of the ground and burned as soon as the City bought the land with no intention of maintaining the orchard.  Most of the leaves on most of the trees turned brown early this fall, rather than turning pretty colors, a sign that disease is rampant in the orchard, and a good reason that we didn’t get to pick pears there this year.  It is now a danger to all pear and apple trees in the Rogue Valley, including orchards in Jackson County.  Accordingly, my speech to the Commissioners was shared with Harry and David and Jackson County’s Commissioners, as this one will be.
I submit that the reason that Naumes sold the land to the City so cheap is that they could not sell it to farmers who knew what had to be done with that orchard and how much it would cost to do it with hop poles and wires complicating the removal of those trees.  I submit that the reason the deal was done quickly and kept secret was not to prevent bidding up the price, which was not at all likely, but to get the City to buy that pig in a poke before someone who knew about old orchards let the cat out of the bag and warned the Council not to take on that massive liability. 
Nonetheless, we bought that orchard and now we have to do the right thing before we get sued by Jackson County’s pear and apple growers.   Those trees must be cut down and torn out before spring, when new leaves will be available for the disease spores flying off 150 acres of trees. 
It won’t be easy; we can’t just go in there with heavy equipment and tear them out.  The hop wires are in the way.  We can’t burn them; the hop poles are treated and toxic.  We have to send teams of workers with chain saws, loppers, and wire cutters; cut the trees up and take them out; and either burn them or take them down the road to Southern Oregon Compost, where they can be professionally composted.  The poles are toxic waste that must be dealt with separately.
Please put this on your agenda immediately, and let’s discuss the matter.

Published at Yahoo Voices under Land and Liability #6.

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