Don Parrish, re-elected to be the zone's representative, said the vote shows the area's growers know they have benefited from the eradication program.

"If we didn't have the program, growers wouldn't have seen the yields they have. They wouldn't have made that top crop or had the yields with the weevil pressure we had two or three years ago."

Parrish expressed his appreciation to state legislators, especially local legislators such as Sen. Robert Duncan and Reps. Gary Walker, Delwin Jones and Carl Isett, for providing cost-share funding for eradication.

"The program is mostly funded by farmers," he said, "but state cost-share funds have been tremendously important in getting us to this point."

The zone has seen a reduction of 99.9 percent in the number of weevils trapped in the zone since it began, said Charles Allen, program director for the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation.

"This is a proven program," Allen said. "We've had two zones that have reached functional eradication, and we're seeing the same kind of results in other zones as we've seen in the Western High Plains."

State law requires each active eradication zone to vote on continuing its efforts every four years. Voters in the Western High Plains originally approved beginning eradication in 1998, and activities began in the zone in the fall of 1999.

Three other zones in the state previously passed retention elections, all by similar margins.

The Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation is a nonprofit, grower-initiated and funded organization dedicated to eliminating the cotton boll weevil from the state in the most cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner possible.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com