A Colorado judge has recently ruled that the spraying of agricultural pesticides can be a form of trespassing if the pesticides impact the crops of their neighbors. This does not mean the impact must be intentional, as was found in the case of Gordon Macalpine and Rosemary Blichak vs James Hopper.
Delta County Distrcit Judge Charles Greenacre ruled in favor of Macalpine and Blichak who argued that Hopper was spraying pesticides, that contain malathion, and affected their crops. This is an issue because Blichak and Macalpine own an organic farm, and to be a certified organic farm, there cannot be any pesticides found present on their property.
Hopper was spraying for mosquitos, and twice the wind had blown the pesticide over and onto Blichak and Macalpines property. Hopper states that he has been using the pesticide to fight off mosquitos because his wife had once contracted the West Nile virus.
However, it is believed that Hooper intentionally sprayed onto his neighbors property. When state officials tested the Blichak and Macalpines property for malathion, it was found to be both on their property and in their home as well. Hooper claims that only once did he accidently spray pesticide onto his neighbors’ property, and it was due to a wind gust.
Judge Greenacre ruled that Hooper had to receive pesticide-spraying training, be more aware of wind gusts, and cannot spray chemicals within one hundred and fifty feet of Blichak and Macalpines property.
Hooper claims that, as a courtesy, he did more than was asked of him by the judge. Which includes a barrier he had built to better keep the pesticides from drifting over. However, even though the “organic farmers hand book” states Blichak and Macalpines should build a barrier of their own to protect their crops, they haven’t.
Hooper also claims that there is a swampy area around 50 feet from their property, which belongs to Blichak and Macalpines, and is neither maintained nor used. He’s stated how it’s nothing more than an infestation pit for mosquitos, which plagues their land.
It’s difficult to say which, if either, side is in the right on this one, but both sides are surely in the wrong. Hooper should have been more careful in spraying his pesticides, while Blichak and Macalpines should have done more to protect their crops, in the form of a barrier. But they should also be maintaining their land as their swampy area is having an adverse affect upon Hooper. Just as Hoopers spraying is having an adverse affect upon the organic farm.
The question is whether either side is causing a problem, and the answer is both sides are. But it appears as though Hooper took the blame. The issue this brings about is the important legal precedence that has been set. How many other cases can now arise based on this ruling?
Take for example personal Bee Hives, which are now allowed on many properties throughout Colorado. What if your neighbor is allergic to bees, and since your bees travel onto their property, there is a chance that person could be stung. Are you then not allowed to own bees? Or do the neighbors have the ability to force you to get rid of the ones you own? How about people allergic to cotton trees or Lilacs? Should precedence matter, meaning that if you were there before your neighbors, you should be allowed to continue doing what you do?
These are all examples of situations outside of a person’s control. If Hooper indeed did not intend for the pesticide to make it’s way over onto his neighbors land, then that example is no different than the others. How far could this be taken? We already have debates over light and noise pollution, which is a strange thing. Remember, these are laws, which restrict what a person can, or cannot do on their own property. This becomes much more important when these laws restrict and affect a persons livelihood. But time will tell how this case will dictate the outcome of others.
The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi, a white-hat SEO knight, and bastion of content creating freedom. If you enjoyed this article, you can follow me on twitter @JakabokBotch #YouDontKnowJak. I am writing on behalf of the Law Office of Phil Clark, who has many years experience working in Colorado as a Criminal Defense Attorney.
Colorado Judge Rules Pesticide Spraying Can Result In A Form Of Trespassing