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Pesticide Poisons Sedona, Farmer Says

TUCSON (CN) - The pesticide rotenone is poisoning creeks in scenic Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, and the government refuses to re-evaluate the chemical, environmentalists and a rancher claim in Federal Court. The Council for Endangered Species Act Reliability and George Yard, a rancher on the Verde River in Central Arizona, say the pesticide has been "directly linked with Parkinson's disease in humans."

The plaintiffs say the Environmental Protection Agency violated federal law by re-registering the pesticide without consulting with wildlife officials.

They want the EPA and the Department of The Interior ordered to comply with the U.S. Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Yard says that "rotenone has already been applied to the upper Verde River" upstream from his ranch. He says it is likely to be applied in the near future along the West Fork of Oak Creek, a popular hiking area, and upstream from Sedona and Redrock Canyon, two popular tourist destinations.

The lawsuit claims continued use of the pesticide in Arizona streams threatens endangered aquatic and riparian species, including the Chiricahua leopard frog, Spikedace, Loach minnows, bonytail chubs, razorback suckers, Gila topminnows, Gila chubs, Sonora tiger salamanders and Southwestern willow flycatchers.

"The approved use of rotenone as an aquatic pesticide introduces many toxins into the affected endangered and threatened species' habitat," according to the complaint.

"Rotenone, when used as an aquatic pesticide, interferes with oxygen use and is especially toxic to organisms that obtain oxygen from water, such as fish, amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. Certain species of aquatic invertebrates and native fishes are particularly susceptible to long-term or permanent extirpation from streams poisoned by rotenone."

The EPA classifies rotenone as "highly toxic or slightly toxic depending on concentration," the complaint states.

A recent study published in the Journal of Agromedicine shows a "correlation between 100 Parkinson's disease patients and the use of the pesticide rotenone," according to the complaint.

"Despite this readily available information regarding these detrimental effects of rotenone, the EPA neither initiated the requisite ESA consultation nor complied with the FIFRA prior to issuing its re-registration decision on rotenone and approving its use as an aquatic pesticide," the plaintiffs say.

They seek declaratory judgment and an order compelling the EPA to consult with federal wildlife officials before allowing the continued use of rotenone.

They are represented by T. Gerald Chilton.

Rotenone occurs naturally in the roots of some plants, including jicama. It has long been used by Native Americans on both continents to stun fish for harvesting.

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