Ashland moves to reduce but not eliminate pesticides in parks

Ashland moves to reduce but not eliminate pesticides in parks

May 25, 2010

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Commission has adopted a plan to reduce, but not eliminate, pesticide use in the parks system.

Residents who were vocal supporters of pesticide elimination had said they would volunteer to pull weeds. Many were angered by the Parks Commission’s decision on Monday to adopt new rules that reduce pesticide use but stop short of laying out a plan for eventually eliminating the chemicals.

“Don’t think you’ll get volunteers if you continue to poison the parks!” one man shouted from the audience at the Monday meeting.

Parks Superintendent Steve Gies said parks staff would be able to carry out some of the pesticide reduction steps on their own, such as installing concrete under fence lines so vegetation doesn’t have to be sprayed there.

The Parks Commission set aside $80,000 in the coming fiscal year, which starts on July 1, to pay the salary and benefits of a volunteer coordinator. That person will coordinate the activities of new volunteers as well as the work done by volunteers who already help out on a range of parks projects.

Under the new policy and guidelines adopted by the Parks Commission on Monday night, parks staff won’t apply pesticides within 50 feet of streams, wetlands, playgrounds, picnic areas and community gardens.

Notices will be posted 48 hours before any pesticides are applied, and will remain in place for 48 hours after application.

An earlier parks proposal called for 15 foot buffer zones and 24 hours notice before pesticide applications of only the most toxic chemicals. The signs would have been taken down as soon as pesticide labels said it was safe to do so. In some cases, signs could have been taken down in as little as 30 minutes because some labels say pesticides are safe once they are dry.

Pesticides will not be applied in any parks from Memorial Day through Labor Day. With Memorial Day fast approaching, parks staff won’t be applying any more pesticides this year until after Labor Day, Gies said.

The various pesticide reduction strategies don’t apply to the parks department-run Oak Knoll Public Golf Course, which has high-maintenance areas that include putting greens.

— Vickie Aldous

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