Ward Stone Gives 'Em Hell!

Declares Support for Save the Pine Bush

by Daniel W. Van Riper, Aug./Sept. 90

At the June 20 Pine Bush dinner, NYS Wildlife Pathologist, Ward Stone, avowed enemy of polluters and brain-dead bureaucrats, offered praise and encouragement to the members of Save the Pine Bush. "We need more groups like Save the Pine Bush," he said. "New York State would be destroyed rapidly without people like you." During his talk, he made the following points:

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Jorling should resign. "He should be replaced with someone better," said Stone. Ideally, the post of DEC commissioner should be popularly elected.

  • The structure of the DEC should be changed radically. Top and mid-level managers should be replaced with persons who are willing and better qualified to deal with the environmental crisis.

  • Chem-Lawn and other chemical lawn outfits are poisoning the state, and the DEC is looking the other way.
  • On this last point, Stone spoke at length, detailing how over the years massive bird kills caused by spraying lawns and farms with toxic chemicals have come to his attention. "Birds are general indicators of the health of the environment," he said. "Just like in the old days the canary in the mind shaft would be the first to suffocate if the air became unbreathable. If the death of birds is a good indicator, then NYS is rapidly becoming uninhabitable." Stone has testified against Chem-Lawn's use of chemicals such as diazanon, carbofuran, dieldrin, and clordane, all of which kill wildlife and humans by suffocation, and have been shown to cause in the long term malignant tumors and other incurable health problems.

    Stone told how he began to wonder why the herbicides began to be used on lawns. "When did dandelions become the enemy?" he asked. He recalled picking a bouquet of dandelions for his mother when he was a child. "Although she tried to look pleased, her reaction was less than I had hoped for," he said. "So I made a necklace of dandelions and give it to the little girl down the street, and she was delighted the way I hoped my mother would be." He feels that today's children will not have such memories.

    Without identifying himself, Stone called the Voorheesville Cooperative Extension (the one nearest his home) and asked the person in charge, what is the best way to remove dandelions? As expected, this person recommended using herbicides. When pressed for alternatives, he also recommended using a flame thrower to burn them out! As a last resort, one could dig them out with a shovel, but since that is labor intensive, it is not to be recommended. Finally, Stone asked this person point blank, Why should I go to the bother of removing dandelions? After a long pause, this person answered with, "They cause brown spots."

    "So that," concluded Stone, "is why we are poisoning ourselves in a losing war against dandelions. Brown spots on the lawn."

    Probably the most important message Stone had for SPB was not to give up hope. "When I was thirty," he said, "I looked forward to the time when all these toxic chemicals would be banned. Now, here I am in my fifties, and I'm still giving the same testimony at the same stupid hearings over the same deadly substances. The thing is not to get discouraged, because this is important work that has to be done."


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