(Beyond Pesticides, May 12, 2008) Town officials in Camden, Maine passed a new policy that eliminates toxic pesticides from being applied to municipal parks and fields thanks to the grassroots efforts spearheaded by Citizens for a Green Camden. According to the Knox County Times Reporter, an advisory committee of citizens and town and school employees that are knowledgeable about organic pest management will oversee the policy’s implementation. The director of Camden’s Parks and Recreation Department, Jeff Kuller, stated that they will now look to mechanical methods and the use of vinegar to manage weeds on several of the town’s athletic fields.The policy states, “All pesticides are toxic to some degree and the widespread use of pesticides is both a major environmental problem and a public health issue. Federal regulation of pesticides is no guarantee of safety. Camden recognizes that the use of pesticides may have profound effects upon indigenous plants, surface water and ground water, as well as unintended effects upon people, birds and other animals in the vicinity of treated areas. Camden recognizes that all citizens, particularly children, have a right to protection from exposure to hazardous chemicals and pesticides.”
The policy goes on to state, “Camden supports the precautionary principle (as defined by the Wingspread Statement of January 1998) as the basis for its pest management policy. The precautionary principle states, “”˜When an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationships are not yet fully established.” The policy states, “Therefore, it is the express policy of Camden to refrain from the use of pesticides upon property it owns, uses or controls, except in situations that pose an imminent threat of serious injury to persons, property or agriculture.”
The group also works with a committee in Castine, Maine that has banned the use of pesticides on town lawns. The town of Greenwich, Connecticut also passed a policy banning the use of pesticides on all of its athletic fields. Based on the passage of an earlier ordinance, Townsend, Massachusetts has begun implementation of an organic program for all of its municipal lawn areas.
For more information on organic turf management, see “Pesticides and Playing Fields.” For more information on being a part of the growing organic lawn care movement, please visit our Lawns & Landscapes program page. To find a service provider that practices least- or non-toxic methods, visit the Safety Source for Pest Management.