Topanga plans to defend toxic eradication of plant with guerilla tactics

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Local Topanga residents are volunteering for civil disobedience training as they prepare to challenge the Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority’s (MRCA) plans to chemically remove arundo donax (giant cane), a nonnative plant, in Lower Topanga.

A press release from the Santa Monica Mountains Coalition for Alternatives to Toxics, a group formed in response to the state’s plans, states that despite community lobbying, California State Parks Department and the MRCA have refused to delay the herbicide project. Beginning this week, workers from Los Angeles Conservation Corps will start applying the herbicide to cut stumps of the plants, which Rabyn Blake called a “gorilla chopping of the Arundo.”

Although the manufacturer of the herbicide, Monsanto Company, proclaims the chemical safe for nearby residents, many locals fear the long-term and lesser-known side effects of the toxic chemicals known as “Roundup.” Furthermore, many residents insist they do not want a natural environment polluted and used as a chemical facility. Some locals discourage the eradication of the plant Arundo, explaining that the plant helps stabilize stream banks and minimize run-off.

In 2001, the California State Parks Department’s bought 1,659 acres of land in the Lower Topanga area. Since the acquisition, 77 households and several businesses have been evicted in preparation for the area to be turned into a state park.