Chemical Mowing Causes Controversy in Brazos County

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BRAZOS COUNTY - What used to be a colorful view down Barnwood Drive in Brazos County is a little less vibrant.

"It's just sadness," said Nancy Yung, who has lived on the street for more than 25 years.

Residents now see brown strips of grass lining their roadway instead of wildflowers.

"When we saw the amount of devastation, it was just unbelievable," she said.

Brazos County is chemically mowing along the roads to try to control vegetation, a move they said will keep the roads safer by preventing erosion. But the loss of some of nature's beauty is a heavy price for some.

"It's part of who we are," said Yung. "It's part of why we live where we do. If we wanted manicured lawns, we'd be in town."

Long time resident Nancy Yung is worried the herbicide used could contain dangerous chemicals.

"For all I know, my dogs and cats were running through it five minutes afterwards and dragging it into my home," she said. "We just don't have any answers."

Residents say the herbicide has spread down to an area pond leaving the once green grass brown. Now neighbors are worried about how the chemicals are affecting the wildlife.

Rick Laughlin with the Rio Brazos Audubon Society said the loss of insects is detrimental to the environment.

"When you start removing this foundation of insects and flowers from roadsides or anywhere else, you start impacting the animals going higher up," Laughlin said.

"As far as we know, we have been informed that the chemicals are not dangerous," said Brazos County Precinct 4 Commissioner Irma Cauley. She adds that the goal is to eradicate the invasive weeds as economically as possible so that Bermuda grass will grow and wildflowers can continue to thrive. One weed that was eliminated in the process is bastard cabbage, which threatens the growth of wildflowers. By eliminating this weed, the county hopes more wildflowers will grow in the future.

"This is one of the ways that we had hoped that we are proactive in saving our roads and saving the beauty and all of that that we enjoy about Brazos County," said Commissioner Cauley.

But for now, residents will have to live without some of the vibrant colors.

Brazos County Judge Duane Peters said they haven't started the second round of herbicide treatment yet because of the unhappy residents. He said the county will soon discuss whether they want to continue the herbicide spraying.