FairWarning.org reports that a criminal investigation is underway into allegations that Lamar Advertising Co., a highway billboard giant, poisoned trees that obscured views of its roadside ads near Tallahassee, Fla. Robert J. Barnhart, a crew chief for the company, said he was fired because he refused to continue “hit and run” poisonings with a potent herbicide. He has filed a whistle-blower lawsuit.
It is not clear if the Tallahassee tree-poisonings were isolated. The Baton Rouge, La., company has nearly 150,000 billboards, more than any other U.S. outdoor advertising firm. Barnhart he said acted under orders from Lamar's former regional manager, Myron A. “Chip” LaBorde, who ran company operations in Florida and Georgia and was past president of the Florida Outdoor Advertising Association. LaBorde died of pancreatic cancer last summer. Hal Kilshaw, a Lamar vice president and chief spokesman, declined to discuss the criminal investigation, but he said “cutting of trees or poisoning of trees without the required permits would be contrary to company policy.”