(Beyond Pesticides, April 7, 2010) Although the city stopped using chemical pesticides in much of its public spaces nearly four decades ago, village officials expect to pass a resolution prohibiting their use on public property, including parks, fields and playgrounds. The hope is that the local law, once publicized, will have a trickle-down effect on private property owners.
“If we can do it, why can’t people do it on their own lawn?” the village president, Douglas Newman, asked last week. On April 1, at Meadowland Park, village officials and local and state environmentalists unveiled a sign featuring a ladybug that will soon be posted in the village’s 10 parks, fields and playgrounds. James McGowan, of the South Orange Environmental Commission, which is credited with spearheading the village’s initiative, said inorganic pesticides and their use still pose a danger.
“There is some serious effects from these things,” he said. “People have good alternatives,” such as integrated pest management, which uses biological controls, such as plants that are resistant to common pests.” The village’s program, he said, “brings together a lot of environmental initiatives.” Eric Benson, canvass director for the New Jersey Environmental Federation, said the benefit of announcing the plan right now is to get people to realize they have alternatives in their own homes and gardens, just as residents are tending to them anew.
But the parks initiative helps protect those most vulnerable to pesticide use and its side effects — children. Children’s body sizes, as well as their penchant to roll around in the grass, means they ingest chemicals at a greater concentration, Mr. Benson said. Similar initiatives are already in place in Newark, Montclair and about three dozen other New Jersey municipalities, Mr. Benson said. Many residents welcomed the initiative. One parent, called the village’s initiative “awesome.” “We won’t have to worry about our kids getting harmed.”
The village’s resolution is scheduled for a vote at the village trustees’ April 12 meeting.
Last fall, another New Jersey municipality, Hamilton Township, joined other communities in the state that have made their parks pesticide-free zones and have adopted an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for managing town property by passing a resolution adopting a pesticide reduction policy. So far over 30 communities in New Jersey have designated Pesticide Free Zones in parks including Burlington and Cape May Counties, and the townships of Bernards, Chatham, Cherry Hill, Collingswood, Asbury Park, East and West Windsor, Hightstown, Montclair, Ocean City, Dennis, Colts Neck, Hazlet, Neptune, Red Bank, Pine Beach and Wall Townships.
Other places around the country are also moving forward to protect their residents from harmful chemicals. New York State Parks recently passed a similar policy that also establishes pesticide-free zones. In addition, Chicago City Parks has reduced pesticide use by 80 percent in their parks, many of which are pesticide-free; in the Northwest U.S. there are more than 50 parks; as well as in communities throughout Massachusetts, Maine, New York and Connecticut. For information about getting your community to reduce pesticide use visit Beyond Pesticides’ activists tools page.
Source: The Star-Ledger- NJ.com