Community Articles
Go to Site Index See "Community Articles" main page
General News · 19th May 2016
Noba Anderson
Thanks to those of you who responded regarding the application of dust control on Cortes roads. Please find attached and pasted below my letter to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
In brief summary, I am recommending dust suppressant be applied this year to Olmstead Road and that a Cortes roads committee be struck to further investigate this matter and offer ongoing input on Cortes roads issues. If you are interested in serving in this way, please let me know.

Also attached is some further info on the dust suppressant used and here are some links offered by one Cortes resident concerned about the effects:

Thanks, Noba


May 19, 2016

Tallina McRae
District Operations Technician & Area Manager
Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure

Last week I published an article on our local community website asking for public input about whether or not residents of Cortes wanted to lift the dust control ban on the Island. See
I received 27 responses, which is not a lot for 1,000 people, but only three of those respondents spoke against the use of Magnesium Chloride as a dust suppressant, (one of whom lives on a gravel road). One person was indifferent, and two people were quite interested in its use but wanted to know more about the long-term side effects of its use before lending their support. In the more informal conversations that I had with people, they generally wanted to know why there was a ban, how the product had changed over the years and what the long-term effects might be. I spoke with a couple fish stewards who were concerned that, with the record low water levels in streams this year, any negative side affect might be all that more concentrated and therefore of concern. The people who wrote with concerns were very articulate and thoughtful in their environmental caution.

There were many roads that people wanted to see treated including Olmstead Road, Jocelyn Road, Red Granite Roadd, Manzanita and Tan Roads, Talbot Way and Carrington Bay Road, Caldwell Road, as well as Seascape and Rexford Roads. By far the road most requested for treatment was Olmstead Rd; 11 people specifically wanted this road treated and I can attest that of all the roads on Cortes this is the worst for dust in my opinion for three key reasons. First, it is long, relatively well kept and rather straight so people drive faster than on other dirt roads, second there are more people living on that road than most gravel roads (most of them year-round), and third is that given the young age of the trees in that subdivision the road is exposed to the sun and wind more than most roads therefore compounding the issue. The road that received the second most feedback was Red Granite Road due to the commercial traffic associated with the Seattle Yacht Club.

What I would suggest at this time is that Olmstead Road be given a treatment this year and that a call be put out for Cortes to strike a roads committee that would meet once or twice a year to further investigate the possible broader and longer-term use of the dust suppressant on Cortes Island as well as being an ongoing vehicle through which to communicate community road priorities to both Emcon and the Ministry.

I want to thank you for taking the time to review this issue.


Noba Anderson, Regional Director
Research on the environmental impacts
Comment by Sandy Hoffmann on 19th May 2016
The first link that was provided for more information did not work but I found the article at

It is a very informative article from the College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University and well worth the read. I'm glad to see the scientific-based research on this. We can and should be learning from their efforts to gain a better understanding of the potential impacts.

I think a road committee to further discuss this matter is a great idea.