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Judge tosses out permit for herbicide spray plan 4-28-07

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - A Superior Court judge tossed out a permit granted by the state to spray herbicides on Long Island near Prince of Wales Island.

The city of Hydaburg and five groups had sued to stop the spraying of herbicides on the Southeast Alaska island.

The Department of Environmental Conservation permit would have allowed Klukwan, Inc., a Haines-based Native corporation that owns the property, to spray herbicides from a helicopter. The agency issued the permit last year to Klukwan to spray two herbicides by helicopter to kill unwanted alder and salmonberry on over 1,900 acres of clear-cut land owned by the Native corporation.

The plan was first proposed in 1999. Klukwan wants to grow more conifers for future logging.

The Hydaburg Cooperative Association, city of Hydaburg, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Organized Village of Kake, and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council appealed the permit.

The groups said aerial spraying of poison could affect fishing waters and wildlife habitat.

They sued the state last year, claiming the Department of Environmental Conservation ignored overwhelming public opposition in issuing a permit allowing Klukwan to spray from the air.

Long Island for years has been used by residents of Hydaburg to support their subsistence way of life, said Hydaburg Mayor Tom Morrison. He has said if Klukwan sprays the herbicides, he would not feel safe eating any of the food harvested from around the island.

The permit allowed for four herbicides to be sprayed on the northern tip of the island.

Aerial spraying of pesticides in Alaska is rare, but not unprecedented.

Four permits have been issued in the past 30 years. Most recently, in 2005, helicopters were used to spray for potato blight in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.
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