We’ve all seen it — the brown strip of grass along our roads and highways. It is a telltale mark of the roadside herbicide applications regularly performed by our cities, counties, and state agencies. 

Pesticide applications along roads are a concern because runoff can reach our streams, affecting the ability of salmon to swim, spawn, detect predators, or fight off disease. Herbicides used along roads also can have serious health impacts to humans.

But keeping our roadsides safe for cars doesn’t have to mean danger for our salmon or our communities. Six counties in Washington — Thurston, Snohomish, Clallam, Jefferson, San Juan, and Island — maintain their roadsides without the use of herbicides. Many other cities, counties, and states around the United States have chosen to reduce or eliminate their use of herbicides on roadsides as well. For information about non-toxic roadside control, see our page on No-Spray Roadsides.

Even the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has begun to look into ways to reduce their herbicide use in a number of places around the state. Community support for non-toxic roadside vegetation management has prompted WSDOT to take these great first steps in reducing their pesticide use, so keep letting WSDOT know that you want safe, healthy, and non-toxic roads.