Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 27, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
26 - THE UTHBRIDOE HERALD - Wednesday, January 27, 1971 Why defoliants are used on Canada-U.S. border By JOHN MIKA I Herald Ottawa Bureau OTTAWA - Almost two decade; ago, long before "ecology" and "Vietnam" became familiar catchwords, herbicides became a regular aid of the small Canadian and American crews of the International Boundary Commission - and still are. Under carefully - controlled conditions, they have "defoliated" lengthy sections of brush and trees so successfully that only periodic maintenance spraying is needed from now on. This minimal chore not only saves money but frees the two dozen IBC employees from modern resurveying of the built-in "errors" in the boundary, forever legal but less than geodeti-cally accurate. The chemicals used are mainly picloram and 2,4,5 T which have been the common ingredients in U.S. army formulations to denude substantial portions of Indo-China. But officials here are quick to point out that there is a world of difference between saturation m i 1 i tary application to devastate and dilute, selective treatment to control vegetation growth along our peaceful frontiers. The Canada-U.S.A. boundary runs more than 5,500 miles over rolling farm and bush "down east," along St. Lawrence and Great Lakes range markers, through forests, across sweeping plains, up and down alpine peaks, to salt water chart coordinates, tracing the panhandle's corrugations and sh* c i n g through Yukon's mountain ter-i rain, ' It is connected by more than 0,000 boundary "monuments" measuring straight - line courses over land and water from a mere 23 inches in length to the 647-mile demarcation of the 141st meridian separating Alaska from the Yukon. (Unlike meridians, latitude lines are not great circles of shortest point - to - point distance. So the much longer 49th parallel border is actually a slight curve cuf up by monuments averaging 1 1-3 miles apart and each containing about a four - inch deflection. (Because a 19th century arbitration decided the 49th parallel should be surveyed by the less precise but faster astronomical rather than geometric methods, the marked boundary contains a number of errors due to "gravitational anomalies." (The survey's first monument for instance, erected at Point Roberts, B.C., is actually some 100 yards north of where it should have been placed. But Canada got some compensating territory when the same conditions resulted in several Alberta markers biting up to 1,200 feet into what should have been Montana). Partly because it is the marked boundary that counts legally and partly because customs and police patrols needed a visible reference, the last of the series of boundary treaties declared that a "vista" 10 feet on either side of the line should be maintained1 by the IBC in perpetuity. This 20 - foot vista of clear Premier Smallwood of Newfoundland says he has been under "heavy pressure" from the provincial Liberal party not to step down as Leader. He added in a radio interview that some members of the Newfoundland house of assembly PREMIER SMALLWOOD . . . Under Pressure have urged him to step down as party Leader but these members "are on the other side of the house." A provincial election must be held in Newfoundland this year. The Liberal government's mandate expires Dec. 31. * * * The widow of a Riel Rebellion veteran has died in New Westminster, B.C., at the age of 101 Mrs. Alice Margaret R e i d. New Westminster's oldest citizen, was predeceased in 1947 by her husband, Rev. William Stevenson Reid, who, at 14, was the youngest soldier to fight in the Riel Rebellion. a * � Harry J. Enns, MLA for Lakeside and a former cabinet minister, announced in Winnipeg he will seek the leadership of the Manitoba Conservative party, at a leadership convention Feb. 26-27. Mr. Enns is the first to declare his intention to seek the post, to be vacated by former premier Walter Weir as soon as a successor is chosen. * * * Patrons of a Bournemouth England, tavern have banded together to dissuade their barmaid from doing away with the most famous bosom in Bournemouth. So prominent is Jane Tomi-ainen's bust that few male customers can keep their eyes off it. Tired about some of their remarks, she announced Monday she would undergo plastic surgery to reduce her bustline from its present 38Va-inch proportions Distressed patrons have formed themselves into a group called BRA - for Bust Retention Association. Committee perplexed report 12-year-old drug user discovered WENATCHEE, Wash. (AP) -Volunteer undercover men say a 10-month investigation turned up an "unlimited supply" of illegal drugs in this farming community of 18,000. They said they found a 12-yoar-old heroin user and a narcotics pusher who was 13. The investigation by members of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, working with the Chelan County sheriff's office, resulted in about 50 arrests. Larry Graybeal, co-chairman of the Jaycee dnig abatement program, said the undercover men were able to "buy everything in the area from marijuana to opium." OTTAWA (CP) - The Commons public accounts committee was left uncharacteristically perplexed Tuesday by a report that the CBC paid Uncle Sam $103,000 in income taxes it had failed to deduct from employees stationed in the U.S. The committee is normally a keen critic of any undue expense but the item in the 1969 report of Auditor-General Maxwell Henderson has confronted it with a dilemma. In its report to Parliament, the commit tee must either stand on the unpopular principle that individuals should be made to pay up following a bureaucratic oversight-or it can pass up the opportunity to attack a favorite committee target, the CBC. The auditor-general's report states the money should have been deducted from paychequcs in the period from April 1, 1966, to Dec. 31, 1968. CORPORATION MISTAKEN Mr. Henderson told the committee the CBC originally explained the matter as being the result of a mistaken notion that Canadian employees were Immune from U.S. taxes. The CBC had advised toim earlier that it was seeking means to recover the money from employees. The committee was uncertain what recommendation it should make to Parliament. No one directly disputed the suggestion of Jack Bigg (PC-Pembina). "This is what's called unlawful enrichment," Mr. Bigg said. "That's what it's called when we overpay some pensioner or widow and we make them pay back (he extra money. "I don't like the principle but if we're going to have it we should be consistent and make these employees pay." WORKS TO LIVE LONDON (AP) - Britain's National Economic Develop-ment Council says its studies indicate the American lives to work, while the Briton works to live. space is easy to maintain-| except for almost 1,500 miles of forests that span the boundary in various areas. "In the past, we would send out crews with axes and saws powered equipment in recent years - to cut that 20-foot-strip," but now we use chemicals a lot just as the hydro utilities in B.C. and everywhere else do," said A. F. Lambert, Head of the IBC's Canadian section, in an interview. The old method would mean a really good season's work would cover about 30 miles so that your return cycle was about every 10 years. But it only takes alder and some other fast-growing t r e e s or brush about two or three years to cover up the boundary line. "Now, using defoliants, in one summer you can cover 200 miles of the line and cut down the cycle to three or four years easily." Even more important, the cycle can be virtually broken as a regular treadmill. "The key to the whole thing is that, with defoliants, nature helps us because by eliminating the woody growth we allow the grasses and ferns to take hold and they choke out woody growth thereafter," says Mr. Lambert. "So we have pretty well covered the whole boundary where defoliants are of help now and have found that as a general rule you only have to go back a second time for general spraying and just spot spraying after that because the 20 feet allows side growth to creep in. "It produces what has been called a 'beneficial change in the ecology* - something that was reported to me by a B.C. forestry scientist when we experimented with chemicals in the Chilliwack area. "That was way back in 1952 and of course I had to look up the word ecology in the dictionary because we didn't know what the word meant then although everyone uses it now." In the east, IBC uses Bombardier - made small tankers on tracks to spray the defoliant but in the west, particularly in the mountains, they use specially-equipped Okanagan Helicopters Ltd. craft for dropping gelatin-ed chemicals in a precise 20-foot band. "It would be a lot easier if we could do as the hydro companies do and maintain a 150-foot - wide right-of-way but the treaty says 20 feet and that's all that's kept clear," insists Mr, Lambert. Hand cutting, supported1 by back - packed hand spraying still is resorted to when necessary to keep the vista within its limits. The two countries decided on the perpetual maintenance program when the arduous and expensive original line cutting in the mid-1850s was found to be completely obliterated by growth by 1902 with almost 30 per cent of the monuments lost or broken by frost - heaving and all of them out of sight. From 1908 until 1925 the entire boundary had to be resur-veyed and marked again. "That's why the international commission was kept on to keep the vista and boundary in shape so that never again will we have to do a major job of that scope." Mr. Lambert says no aggregate capital costs have been compiled on the boundary but surveying and cutting the Alaska - Yukon border cost .$300,000 in pre - inflation 1908 and that's just about the same amount that cumulative annual maintenance for the entire border totalled between 1925 and 1960 when he figured it out. "In other words 35 years of maintaining the whole border cost no more than opening up a small section representing barely more than one - tenth the border. Without our present maintenance program, the whole border would have to be surveyed and marked all over again about now." Because of the efficiency of chemical control, this summer': program likely will involve only spot clean up and one m/jor project - the last 40 miles of the 49th parallel between the Chilliwack area and Point Roberts. "But this won't be an aerial application. It will be a cutting operation and if any chemicals are used they will be applied by hand on a very selective spot basis after the cutting is com pleted," said Mr. Lambert The extra care is needed because of the combination of ag ricultural area and mount a i drafts making precise spraying difficult and risky. "In all the time we've used chemicals on the border, we've never had one farmer complain that a single plant has been killed. "We're very careful in apply ing the chemicals and we only use those substances and tech niques approved by the pesti cide control agency in our agricultural department and our counterparts in the U.S. do the same. "We plan jointly each year maintenance program and our operations are cleared annually ed roadside looks like the wrath by the appropriate government of God and it must be killing agencies concerned with safe- the wildflowers and bees, etc " ty," said Mr. Lambert. Two years ago, several U.S. I senators became aroused about the "scorched earth" defoliation of the boundary but this controversy died down, Mr. Lambert said, after the facts became better known. Among them: Picloram, the newest herbicide for controlling seedlings and saplings generally available only to large utilities for right of way clearing such as hydro lines and pipelines is among the least toxic of defoliants; The older and more widely used 2,4,5 T now is banned by the Canadian agriculture department's pesticide control section except for use on utility rights of way under prescribed conditions. "The objections come from misunderstanding and from protesters against the Vietnam war who jump on everything they can get for an argument," said the agriculture department's herbicidal spec i a 1 i s t here. "The other thing is that some persons in B.C. and in Alberta somehow or other got the idea that Tordon (best known trade name for picloram) somehow changes to 2,4,5 T during application so they said it should be banned too. "The fact is that Tordon is a lot safer than 2,4,5 T from a toxicological standpoint - animals will tolerate a significantly greater amount before showing any ill effect in the laboratory." But while toxicologically safer, it is not biodegradable and that's why the IBC and utilities uses Brushkill (trade name for a 2,4,5 T and 2,4 D mixture) in wet or swampy areas where a persistent chemical eventually could work its way into the ground water or drainage system. "The other thing people say about defoliants is that a spray- said the herbicidalist "This just can't be supported by the facts. The spraying, to be efficient, occurs long before flowers come out and the beekeepers' groups in both Canada and the U.S. have issued statements that the whole broad range of herbicides just aren't having any effect on bees at all.' having any effect on bees at all." The last word on safety goes to Dr. A. B. Morrison, deputy director - general of the federal health department's food and drug directorate. "We don't have any definitive indication that any defoliant has caused abnormalities in humans" despite suggestions that some Vietnamese stillbirths may have been caused by the massive military use there, he Dr. Morrison said the lab experiments did not prove that hu-' mans could be harmed by the chemical but "it is a warning signal that we should be cautious with its use and that's why we think our restrictions on it are valid." CP Airlines cuts back TORONTO (CP) - Canadian Pacific Airlines has announced a reduction in flights and staff as part of an economy drive. A CP Air spokesman said Monday that daily flights from Montreal to Vancouver have been cut to five from six, and there will be only seven trans-' lured this year. continental flights instead of the normal expansion to eight when the summer schedule starts April 25. Normal expansion of staff, which called for hiring 80 pilots and 180 flight attendants, has alsc been cut back with only 50 pilots and 150 attendants being "But 2,4,5 T has caused illness to laboratory animals in experiments and it's for that reason that there have been restrictions placed on it." QUESTIONS EVERYONE ASKS ABOUT SEX Fourteen months ago Dr. David Rubens published a book: "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sox - But Were Afraid to Ask." Overnight it became the most popular sex manual ever published on this continent. February Reader's Digest carries a feature article made up of excerpts from a monthly question-answer column Dr. Rubens now writes. In this article you'll get frank answers to such questions as: How important, Tcally, is sex?... How did sex ever come to be associated with love? . . . What is the point of sexuality? . . . Why is casual sex disappointing? ... Is there such a thing as frigidity? . . 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