Want to poison Boise? Apply within

Ada County, Idaho, is home to the state capital, Boise.

As with most county governments in the U.S., a lot of work is delegated to groups that are governed or advised by citizen boards.  Volunteers make up these boards.  In many municipalities, it’s difficult to recruit good citizens to do the work.

Perhaps Ada County is having difficulty getting volunteers to worry about mosquito abatement. Maybe that’s why the advertisement at the city’s unofficial “City Smart”  website urges unnecessary DDT poisoning of the town.

Tell Ada County What to Do

The Ada County Courthouse, in Boise Idaho.  HPB photo by LCA Architects

The Ada County Courthouse, in Boise Idaho. HPB photo by LCA Architects

Feeling disenfranchised? Not happy with how the elections turned out? Well, there is still a way for you to impact the body politic in Ada County—the County Board of Commissioners is calling for volunteers to serve as advisors on a number of boards.

The County Commissioners, Paul Woods, Rick Yzaguirre, and Fred Tilman, made the appeal for volunteer advisors in the most recent edition of Ada County’s monthly newsletter.

“The county has numerous volunteer boards and advisory committees that help the Ada County Board of Commissioners in policy development and general operations in areas ranging from housing, planning and zoning, social work and recreation. The unpaid volunteer positions give citizens a unique, insider look at county government while they roll up their sleeves to help their local community. While each board has its own bylaws and varying terms of service, interested parties are always encouraged to apply for a position on any volunteer board,” the county said.

The county went on to describe eight examples of boards that rely on volunteer participation, I’ve profiles the three coolest boards here.

Historic Preservation Council—Are you one of those folks that loves to see historical photos from Ada County’s storied past? Would you love to help identify sites of historical significance or help with education efforts? When then consider helping out with the Ada County Historic Preservation Council where, according to the county, “members must demonstrate an interest, competence, or knowledge in history or historic preservation” and can have a positive effect on how the county coordinates its preservation activities.

Mosquito Abatement Advisory Board—I’m a huge advocate for bringing back DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) that insecticide extraordinaire which got a bad rap in the 1960’s when it was panned in Rachel Carson’s inaccurate book, Silent Spring. Turns out that DDT is safe for humans and Silent Spring, “contains certain statements at variance with the facts as we now understand them”, as Cecil Adams so eloquently put it in his The Straight Dope column from December 13, 2002. If you feel like I do about slaughtering mosquitoes and ending West Nile Virus in Idaho, then consider volunteering for the Ada County Mosquito Abatement Advisory Board wherein you can meet to discuss our collective war on these blood-sucking bugs. If you are a mosquito-lover who thinks bugs are people too, I would not recommend this board for you. [emphasis added]

Board of Community Guardians—Finally, if you have a heart for the disabled or the mentally ill, you might be the right sort of volunteer for this important board. According to the county, “The Board of Community Guardians manages the Community Guardian Program, which assists individuals who cannot make decisions for themselves because of mental and/or physical impairments or disabilities. These individuals, who are either legally incapacitated or destitute with no financial security or family support., can be determined a ward of the county, and court-appointed volunteers oversee those wards.

If you are interested in volunteering for any of these advisory boards contact:

Board of Ada County Commission office

200 W. Front St., Third Floor, Boise.

Even the vaunted Cecil Adams writes a clunker from time to time, and his agreement with the wholly unsupportable claim that Rachel Carson was wrong is one of those clunkers (but his description of Lyndon Larouche will make you smile).  The facts differ from the claim in this ad:

  1. DDT’s “bad rap” was well deserved.  In the past three years dozens of news articles matched the science journals commemorating the recovery of bald eagles, brown pelicans, osprey and pergrine falcons — recoveries made possible by ending the use of DDT in the wild.  DDT kills entire ecosystems, starting with the predators at the top.  It’s dangerous stuff.
  2. Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, pioneered the use of good, hard scientific data in popular writing.  In its 53 pages of footnotes to scientific studies, science journals and correspondence, critics have been unable to find inaccuracies.  Especially on the issue of DDT’s effects on wildlife, more than a thousand follow-up studies vindicated Carson.  I have not found a contrary study, not one.
  3. DDT is NOT the pesticide of choice for West Nile, in any case.  It’s almost like arguing that DDT is the pharmaceutical of choice to use against malaria — confusing the pesticides used to kill insects with the pharmaceuticals used to treat disease in humans.  DDT is unsuitable for outdoor use, illegal for outdoor use under the 1958 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and its subsequent amendments because it is “uncontrollable.”  DDT kills non-target species, often better than it kills target species. For mosquito abatement, DDT kills mosquito predators much more effectively than it kills mosquitoes. Plus, it sticks around for years, and it bioaccumulates up food chains, multiplying poison doses to predators, sometimes millions of times.
    West Nile mosquitoes can be effectively treated as larva, if their water homes are known; but DDT is particularly ill-suited for use in water. DDT works best when its spread can be confined indoors, which is where malaria-carrying mosquitoes usually bite. West Nile carriers live and bite outdoors.

I hope Ada County gets volunteers for the mosquito abatement board who know a little bit more about DDT, or who are open to listening to the mosquito abatement experts.

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