BLACK FLIES Plan to end aerial spraying irks lawmakers

One lawmaker said the decision could hurt summer tourism.
HARRISBURG (AP) -- Gov. Ed Rendell's proposal to cut the $4.4 million aerial spraying that kills black flies came under fire by some who remember life before the program began two decades ago.
"It was horrible. ... I remember playing softball with a cigarette in my mouth just to keep the bugs away," said Lee Young of Mechanicsburg.
A group of Republican legislators from central Pennsylvania will discuss the potential elimination of black fly spraying when they meet Monday, said Rep. Bruce Smith, R-York.
"The black fly program is a wonderful program," he said. "I'm going to do everything I can to have it restored."
State Sen. Jeff Piccola, R-Dauphin, called the proposed cut "shocking news" and "both shortsighted and insensitive." Such a decision would make outdoor recreation more uncomfortable and could reduce summer tourism, he said.
"All Pennsylvanians should be offended. Not only will their quality of life be circumvented once again by the governor, but this proposal also implies that he does not intend to spend time here this summer enjoying the wonderful place we call home," Piccola said.
Eliminating the program was among the hard choices in Rendell's $23.8 billion budget, said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Kurt Knaus.
"The black fly program is a quality-of-life issue and not necessarily essential to protect human health or the environment," Knaus said.
Some spraying will occur this spring, but if Rendell's budget is not changed, spraying will end with the fiscal year June 30.