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Daily News Blog

01
Feb

City of St. Paul, MN Acts to Protect Pollinators

(Beyond Pesticides, February 1, 2016) Last Wednesday, the city council of St. Paul, MN adopted a resolution to make the city more pollinator friendly by banning bee-toxic neonicotinoids and other pesticides “proven  to be harmful to pollinators” and require an  updating of its Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, prioritizing non-chemical methods. The resolution recognizes that its authority to restrict pesticide use on private land  has been preempted by the State of Minnesota and then directs the city to encourage property owners within its jurisdiction to practice pollinator stewardship.

StPaul_LogoUnder the new resolution, St. Paul has committed to:

  • Develop or update an IPM program that requires site inspections, monitoring and prevention strategies, an evaluation on the need for pest control, and when pest control is warranted the use of structural, mechanical, biological, organic, and other nonchemical methods will be utilized first.
  • Eliminate the use of neonicotinoid insecticides, and other pesticides proven to be harmful to pollinators, on city grounds, with specific exceptions for golf course areas and certain athletic fields.
  • Require all city departments with any inventory of materials containing neonicotinoids, and other pesticides proven to be harmful to pollinators, to discontinue their use and properly dispose of them unless a justifiable need has been identified by another department.
  • To the best of its ability, the city will source plant material and trees from nurseries that do not use neonicotinoids, or other pesticides proven to be harmful to pollinators.
  • Explore piloting an alternative pest management system on a portion of a golf course tee, green or fairway, and on a premier athletic field in 2016.
  • Reduce the use of all pesticides and systemic insecticides wherever possible and phase out entirely as safer and reasonable alternatives become available.
  • Provide education to city employees that promotes and assists in protecting pollinators and provides ideas in creating favorable pollinator habitat; communicate to the public, through City websites, signage and other means, efforts to protect pollinators including the delineation of parks and public spaces that are pesticide free zones.
  • Continue to advocate at the State and Federal level for increased authority to address the nonagricultural use of pesticides and for other pollinator friendly policies.

The resolution commitments focus heavily on neonicotinoids, which affect the central nervous system of insects and have  consistently been implicated  as a key factor  in pollinator declines, not only  linked to acute exposure and  immediate bee deaths, but also sub-lethal exposure that adversely affects  bee reproduction, navigation, and foraging. The science has become increasingly clear that pesticides, either working individually or synergistically,  play a critical role  in the ongoing decline of honey bees. Pesticide exposure can impair both detoxification mechanisms and immune responses, rendering bees more susceptible to viruses, parasites, and other diseases, and leading to devastating bee losses. By encouraging citizens and department heads to refrain from using neonicotinoids, the city of St. Paul is taking a commendable step to help protect these vulnerable pollinator populations.

St. Paul’s resolution 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. In August 2015, 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. In a watershed moment for the movement against toxic pesticide use, Montgomery County, Maryland successfully passed the strongest restrictions on public and private cosmetic pesticide use in the United States, expanding upon the trail blazed by Takoma Park, MD in 2013, and Ogunquit, ME in 2014. The absence of regressive state-level preemption laws enabled these communities to extend their policies to restrict toxic pesticide use on private property.

Local Ordinances Under Attack
Since the passage of local ordinances in Maine and Maryland, some legislators in those states have or are planning to introduce legislation to take away local authority and reverse the local action and/or prevent other jurisdictions from acting.  The Beyond Pesticides report on state preemption law and its importance in the local democratic process illustrates the benefits of permitting local governments to make decisions that respond to the concerns of their residents, as well as the negative ramifications of state preemption laws. The absence of preemption laws in the seven states that have preserved local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state has been a commanding factor in several pesticide ban victories. If you would like to see a similar ordinance passed in your area, click here to let Beyond Pesticides  know!

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].

Source: Twin Cities Pioneer Press

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

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  • Archives

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