A reader who lives in the neighborhood near Idaho's vacant governor's mansion said he saw crews spray-painting the hillside green on Wednesday.
The reader speculated that it's become too expensive to water, which, given the mansion's celebrated financial woes, would be big news.
But it's not true.
Maintenance on the huge lawn below the mansion is done for the state by the J.R. Simplot Co. Simplot spokesman David Cuoio said Thursday that the spray is a insecticide that kills billbugs, pests that make lawns look drought-stressed.
"The chemical has some kind of agent that makes it go on green," Cuoio said. "That's why it look like green paint is being applied to the hillside."
Gov. Butch Otter calls the site "Idaho House," after he declined to move into the mansion that was donated to the state in 2004 by his former father-in-law, the late J.R. Simplot. The company subsidizes the property's upkeep, assigning an employee as caretaker. Simplot pays 53 percent of the total grounds maintenance bill, according to the Department of Administration. The state pays 47 percent.
Still, it will cost the state $177,400 this year for landscaping, mowing and watering the lawn. There is less than $900,000 left in the state's maintenance fund.
Cuoio said he was glad to learn that the green application was targeted at bugs, not trimming maintenance expense.
"I must say that I breathed a huge sigh of relief," Cuoio said. "I mean, can you imagine the repercussions? 'Well, yeah, you know, we just can't afford the grass anymore and we got some Sherwin-Williams.' That'd be something. But not the case."
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