Letter to the Editor: Non-pesticide methods to remove poison hemlock without sterilizing the soil

Monday, March 18, 2024

This is in response to an article in the Shoreline Area News about the city's planned response to poison-hemlock (Conium maculatum) in Richmond Beach Saltwater Park.

To the Editor:

As the article stated, poison-hemlock is a Class B Noxious Weed. Some, but not all, Class B weeds need to be controlled.  "Control of poison hemlock is required on all public lands and public rights-of-way within King County." It says "control," not "eradicate." "Controlling weeds means not letting weeds reproduce. Usually, that means not letting them go to seed. Legally, control means to prevent the dispersal of all propagating parts capable of forming a new plant." 

All they need to control the plant is to uproot and remove it and dispose of it in the garbage. The plants they remove will not come back. Seeds in the soil will sprout and produce new plants, which also need to be removed. It make several years, but removing new plants will eventually eradicate it.

Your article said "The city attempted to remove the poison hemlock in recent years without herbicide, pulling the plants out by hand. But that technique failed." No, it did not fail. The plants they removed were gone forever. 

The city failed by not removing plants that had sprouted from the seeds in the soil in subsequent years. Now they propose using "a hot foam herbicide-free solution to address weeds which kills weeds along with beneficial fungi, flora and fauna in the soil." 

That's overkill, "throwing the baby out with the bath water" type of thinking. Essentially they plan to sterilize the soil. A better plan would be to remove the plants by hand, properly dispose of them, and follow up at intervals to remove any new plants that spring up. That would be more in keeping with their policy to “reduce and/or eliminate use of pesticides in the city.”

Richard Tinsley
Shoreline WA


Anonymous,  March 18, 2024 at 12:51 PM  

Does the City have enough staff for continual non-herbicide control for all the places listed? Once the plants are killed but still toxic, how soon will the City be able to follow up and remove the dead canes?

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