Garden and Yard Care The Pacific Northwest features pesticide-free parks

Published on March 31st, 2010 | by Jennifer Lance

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17 Pacific Northwest Cities Feature Pesticide-Free Parks and Playgrounds

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From electric car charging stations to solar highways, the Pacific Northwest is a model region for living green.  The use of pesticides in public spaces, such as parks and playgrounds, is no exception.  Some cities, like Arcata, California, have been pesticide-free for over a decade, whereas others are phasing out chemicals.  Behind this movement to create safe parks are active citizens.

Photo by ocean yamaha
The Pacific Northwest features pesticide-free parks

The Pacific Northwest features pesticide-free parks

Ashland, Oregon is currently working on its Draft Ashland Parks Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy.  A grassroots movement has sprung up to influence this policy.  Klamath-Siskiyou Wild explains:

Last spring 440 people including 42 businesses signed a petition urging Ashland Parks Department to reduce or eliminate their use of chemical pesticides and adhere to the City’s 1996 Pesticide Ordinance, which requires that pesticides be “reduced or eliminated” on City property…

Citizens analyzed the Ashland Parks Department pesticide spray records for 2008 not including the Golf Course. These described 207 pesticide applications in 2008, which sprayed a total of 13 gallons (undilluted) of glyphosate and 2.5 gallons (undilluted) of triclopir, plus smaller amounts of eight other chemical pesticides. They used two “Tier 1 most toxic” pesticides (Finale herbicide and Lily Polysul insecticide)…

Even larger cities, such as Seattle, Washington, have stopped using all 131 formerly used Tier 1 pesticides.

The City of Seattle manages over 110,00 acres of public land, of which 12,000 acres are highly developed and managed grounds including greenhouses, specialty gardens, roadsides and medians, golf courses, and hundreds of miles of electrical transmission right-of-way.

Grounds staff, who have been practicing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for over 20 years using pest prevention and mechanical and cultural methods in landscape maintenance, were involved from the inception of the program. This resulted in a widely accepted approach that stretched our idea of what was possible and provided staff with other tools as well as the freedom to try things that might not work. Employee driven innovations have resulted in the elimination of Tier 1 insecticides and herbicides and a reduction in overall pesticide use.

Portland and Seattle both require 50 feet no-spray buffers around water and parks, and they require advance notification prior to application to warn its citizenry.   Seattle has even gone so far as to hire goats as part of its IPM.

Goats, notoriously, will eat almost anything. While we ordinarily think of hand-pulling, herbicides, mowing, and other mechanical approaches of weed control, goats offer many advantages in weed- control.

In 2007 and 2008, King County Metro Transit hired a goat herder and 270 of his goats from Eastern Washington to assist with controlling weeds. These various sites have been difficult to maintain due to steep hillsides and uneven ground. The goats are a more efficient way to control the weeds than crews of human workers, present less risk of injury to the human staff, and eliminate the need for chemical maintenance.

The rest of the US could learn a lot from the success stories of the Pacific Northwest.  From large to small cities, IPMs vary from complete “no-spray” policies to reduction of the most hazardous materials.  Hopefully, Ashland, Oregon will develop a stronger pesticide reduction policy like their neighbors to the north and south.





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About the Author

Jennifer lives on 160 acres off-the-grid in a home built with her own two hands (and several more skilled pairs of hands) from forest fire salvaged timber. Her home is powered by a micro-hydro turbine, and she has been a vegetarian for 21 years. Jennifer graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in art education and has been teaching art to children for over 16 years. She also spent five years teaching in a one-room schoolhouse before becoming the mother of two beautiful children. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and is currently teaching preschool, as well as k-8 art. She enjoys writing, gardening, hiking, practicing yoga, and raising four akitas. Jennifer is the founder and editor of Eco Child's Play (http://ecochildsplay.com) "I’ve always been concerned about the earth and our impact upon it. Now that I have children, I feel compelled to raise them with green values. From organic gardening to alternative energy, my family tries to leave a small carbon footprint." Please visit my other blog: http://reallynatural.com



3 Responses to 17 Pacific Northwest Cities Feature Pesticide-Free Parks and Playgrounds

  1. Carr says:

    Can you name the 17 cities (or parks) that are pesticide-free? i would like to frequent them, but I don’t know where they are. I have MCS, and my inability to enjoy the perks of nature due to pesticide abuse on parks and in forests, is a major disappointment and detracts from my quality of life.

  2. Pingback: October 23, 2011-TTO to attend Valley Wide discussion with Supervisor Bennet at Camp Comfort 2:30-5:00 pm | Sustainable Ojai

  3. Pingback: Move Bee-yond Pesticides

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