With alternative plan, Whately Selectboard opts out of state mosquito control program

Staff Writer
Published: 5/14/2021 3:15:31 PM

WHATELY — Following a brief conversation, the Selectboard voted to opt out of the state Department of Agricultural Resources’ mosquito control program.

The vote came under the advisement of Board of Health Chair Fran Fortino, who appeared before the Selectboard Wednesday night for a hearing on whether to take part in the state’s program, which involves aerial spraying of mosquitoes to protect against eastern equine encephalitis, also known as EEE, and West Nile Virus.

“As you know, (the program) has been a contested issue ever since it appeared in a bill sponsored by the governor,” Fortino said. “There was no opt-out provision, and then state legislators, et cetera, voted to include an opt-out provision.”

Municipalities that opt out of the mosquito control program are required to submit an alternative plan for mosquito management to the state by May 28.

“My role and the role of the Board of Health is really to help you and advise, and we obviously consulted big time by putting together a proposal for the alternative mosquito management plan,” he said, though he did not elaborate on the plan’s details.

Fortino told the Selectboard there is a Mosquito Control for the Twenty-First Century Task Force that plans to review all the past practices of the State Reclamation and Mosquito Control Board, “hopefully with an eye toward more integrated pest management,” so aerial spraying is not its primary option.

Selectboard member Jonathan Edwards recommended board members “heed the advice” of the Board of Health.

“That’s why we have them,” he said. “We have pretty consistent standards on this board. Unless we hear something egregious, we abide by what they say.”

Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne

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