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Daily News Blog

29
Sep

Reno, Nevada Kick-Starts Pesticide-Free Parks Program

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2015) Last week, the City of Reno, Nevada officially approved a Pesticide-Free Parks program aimed at improving the health of its residents and the local environment. In addition to two downtown parks, Neighborhood Advisory Boards within each of City’s five wards chose two parks to join the program, bringing the total to 12 pesticide-free parks. The program is an outgrowth of resident concern over the use of pesticides linked to cancer, asthma, and learning disorders, as well as impacts to local water quality. Beyond Pesticides worked to support the pesticide-free parks movement by sponsoring a training session taught by nationally renowned turfgrass expert Chip Osborne on how to transition to organic practices.

CityofReno-PesticideFreeParks-signage“This is a major win for the city in regards to our priority of providing and maintaining safe and healthy neighborhoods,” Ward 2 Reno City Councilmember Naomi Duerr told ABC8. “Community input will continue to drive the important decisions we make.”

According to a staff report released by the Reno Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Services, there is not expected to be any burdensome financial implications put upon the City as a result of the program. “There will be no cost implications as staff will implement changes within its adopted budget,” the report indicates. Herbicides are currently used in Reno parks to control weeds in planter areas, baseball infields and decomposed granite areas, and around fence lines, trees, signs, and other similar installations. The city estimates it spends approximately 1.4% of total maintenance time applying herbicides, and 4.1% of time using manual or mechanical weed control alternatives. To implement the program, the Park’s Department indicates it will discontinue herbicide use and test alternative strategies that may include the use of organic products, burning, or additional manual or mechanical weed control. The Department does not expect the total time spent on weed control to differ as a result of the change in practices.

Beyond Pesticides is working with the city to provide guidance on transitioning grass fields to organic practices. Soil samples at local parks were taken during the Reno training session, which will provide a baseline to implement cultural changes that will improve the biological health of the soil, making it more resistant to weed and insect  pressures. “What it does is it actually strengthens the soil,” Councilmember Duerr said to 2 News. “So, it’s more prepared to fend off disease, drought, and things like invaders, you know, weeds.”

According to the Park’s Department, the most widely used herbicide in Reno’s public parks is Roundup. Earlier this year, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) determined the active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, exhibited sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity based upon laboratory studies. In addition to concerns over human health, scientific studies also suggest glyphosate and glyphosate-formulated products harm earthworms and other soil biota, contaminate water supplies, and are toxic to amphibians and other aquatic organisms.

Reno’s pesticide-free parks program highlights the powerful change residents can make when they become engaged with their local elected officials. Large and small, communities throughout the country are determining that the risks associated with pesticide use are simply not worth their health, the health of pollinators, or the wider environment. This past summer, the City of Minneapolis, MN passed an organic, pollinator friendly resolution, committing the City to adopt clear guidelines against the use of synthetic pesticides. Communities in Colorado, including Lafayette, Boulder County, and the City of Boulder have restricted the use of bee-toxic pesticides on public spaces. Montgomery County, MD is considering the passage of a comprehensive pesticide ordinance which would extend restrictions to private property applications. As Beyond Pesticides’ Tools for Change webpage shows, numerous other localities have already enacted pesticide-free parks programs with good success.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said local Reno mom Savannah Anderson to 2 News. “I think it’s a really great movement. Hopefully, the rest of the community is inspired to do the same.”

Councilmember Duerr is hopeful that the new program will encourage residents to reconsider the use of pesticides on their own property. “If people understand it’s what they do when they’re driving and what they do with their yard, that’s actually having an impact on our resources that belongs to all of us, I think that’s a pretty major thing to be aware of,” she said to 2 News.

A list of Reno’s Pesticide-Free Parks is available through this website. Starting your own local movement takes a lot of work and commitment, but can be done with perseverance. It’s important to find support —friends, neighbors, and other people who share your concerns about environmental health. It’s also essential to connect with local politicians and government officials. For help getting your movement off the ground, contact Beyond Pesticides at 202-543-5450 or [email protected].

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: City of Reno, Nevada Staff Report, 2News

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  • Archives

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    • ALS (2)
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