State budget shrinkage affects border operation
Operations at the Border Protection Stations located on Highways 101 and 199 have been drastically curtailed after budget cuts prompted the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture to reduce staffing at the two stations by half.
Inspectors are still stopping California-bound traffic eight hours out of every day to ask drivers if they have any plants on deck.
Formerly, inspector salaries at the two stations totaled $450,000 a year; now they cost the state $200,000 a year.
“The border stations protect the food supply and environment from invasive species that travel via highway,” said DFA spokesman Steve Lyle.
Inspectors aren’t trained to look for other types of contraband or illegal activity, though of course “they would be eyes and ears,” Lyle said.
The primary pests hitchhiking in Northern California are gypsy moths and sudden oak death, Lyle said.
Last year, 90 “actionable pests” were pulled from vehicles, Lyle said. Ironically, these suspicious flora and fauna were then transported even farther across state lines, to a Sacramento lab for testing, before being destroyed.