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Daily News Blog

Archive for the 'Maine' Category


Another Maine Town Goes Pesticide-Free

(Beyond Pesticides, September 29, 2011) The town of Scarborough, Maine joins the ever-growing list of communities in Maine and around the country that have decided to ditch conventional, chemical-intensive landscape management practices on public properties in favor of a more sustainable approach. The town Council Members passed a Pest Management Policy last week which prohibits the use of synthetic or chemical pesticides on town-owned property, including schools, sidewalks, athletic fields, parks, and rights of ways. In addition to banning synthetic pesticides, the policy also creates a Pest Management Advisory Committee to help implement and oversee the program and the use of web and signs to notify residents when any products are used. According to local paper The Forecaster, the group Citizens for a Green Scarborough, led by Marla Zando, has been working with the town’s Ordinance Committee since January to create a policy to ban the use of synthetic pesticides. The policy was modeled after similar policies in the towns of Rockport and Camden, Maine. Some opponents of the policy, including some landscapers and a city councilor, expressed concern that the new policy will be more costly than chemical lawn care. However, there are plenty of successful and cost-effective programs […]



Lyme Disease ‘Epidemic’ Causes Stir on Maine Island

(Beyond Pesticides, August 25, 2011) A growth in tick populations and increase in Lyme disease rates over the past few years on an island in Maine have local health officials scrambling to find a solution to keep the problem at bay. So far this year there have been 20 official cases and over 20 suspected cases that have been treated with antibiotics on the island of Islesboro. In the past eight years, the health center has seen at least 69 cases of Lyme disease out of a population of 600, which according to Islesboro’s Tick-Borne Disease Prevention Committee, constitutes an epidemic. The blame for this ”˜epidemic’ has been largely attributed to deer, which serve as the tick’s primary host. There are about 500 deer on the 11-mile-long Island, making it almost as high as the human population. As such, one of the proposed solutions that residents are voting on is to allow gun hunting to reduce the deer herd from 48 to 10 deer per square mile. Unfortunately, though proposals of the prevention committee focus on prevention and include landscape modification in addition to management of deer and other wildlife, they also recommend the use of pesticides including repellants such […]



Pesticide Spray Notification Under Threat in Maine

(Beyond Pesticides, April 15, 2011) Several bills have been introduced in the Maine State Legislature which seek to weaken or eliminate the state’s pesticide spray notification registry. Testimony on the bills was heard last week by the state’s Joint Standing Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (ACF). No votes were taken, but committee decisions are expected as soon as this week on bills concerning the registry. The first bill, L.D. 16, “An Act to Revise Notification Requirements for Pesticides Applications Using Aircraft or Air-carrier Equipment,” would significantly weaken the law by reducing the required notification radius for aerial sprays from ¼ mile (1320 ft.) to just 100 feet. Democrats on the ACF Committee, who oppose the bill, have pointed to previous state research showing that pesticides sprayed aerially on blueberry fields can drift as far as 1500 feet. The bill would also reduce the required notification distance when spraying fruit trees or Christmas trees from 500 ft. to 50 ft. A second bill, L.D. 228, “An Act to Revise Notification Requirements for Pesticide Application,” would effectively abolish the registry completely. According to the Kennebec Journal, the bill’s sponsor intends for the responsibility for notification to fall to the landowner, as […]



Salmon Farms Probed for Illegal Pesticide Use Linked to Lobster Deaths

(Beyond Pesticides, October 19, 2010) In addition to the ongoing investigation into the death of nearly 1,000 lobsters last fall around waters in New England and Canada, Environment Canada is now investigating the possible release of a pesticide that is not permitted for use in Canada. The pesticide, cypermethrin, is used in the U.S., including Maine, to control sea lice outbreaks in salmon farms, a practice under investigation. Cypermethrin is toxic to lobsters, and fishermen associations have been calling for the elimination of the use of pesticides in the marine environment. Fish farmers have been challenged in controlling sea lice outbreaks this summer, particularly in the upper Passamaquoddy Bay area. They have been using other chemicals to control the outbreaks, including hydrogen peroxide, Salmosan (azamethiphos), SLICE (emamectin benzoate) and Calicide (teflubenzuron). New Brunswick aquaculture organizations have maintained that fish farmers do not use cypermethrin, which is not permitted for use there. The New Brunswick Salmon Growers Association referred to the cocktail of pesticides used on salmon farms as “medicine” and referred to salmon farming techniques as “natural.” However, shoddy farming practices, such as growing too many fish per site and having too many sites in the same area, can lead […]



Coalition Halts Herbicide Use on Rights-of-Way on Cape Cod

(Beyond Pesticides, August 12, 2010) In an effort to convince NStar Electric and Gas Corporation to stop using herbicides on rights-of-way, like-minded environmental activists, citizen groups and business owners formed a coalition on Cape Cod: “Cape Cod for a Truly Green NSTAR.” Due to the increased pressure from local activists and residents, NStar made an agreement with regionally planning authority, Cape Cod Commission to postpone the use of herbicides on rights-of-way until 2011. The Commission reasoned that with more time, Cape towns could develop maps to identify areas and drinking water supplies more sensitive to herbicide use. Several organizations and business have signed on to the coalition in support of a ban on herbicides along rights-of-way, such as Clean Water Action, Cape Cod Organic Gardeners, the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition, and the Sierra Club (see the full list online). Ever since NStar started using herbicides in 2004, local residents have worried about potential contamination of the Cape’s underground drinking water supply. Even though NStar has a “green” commitment statement on its website, pledging to lessen impacts to the environment as much as possible, the coalition argues that the company’s use of herbicides on rights-of-way violates this promise. NStar representative Michael […]



Maine Towns Restrict Lawn Chemicals

(Beyond Pesticides, August 4, 2010) Several coastal towns in Maine, concerned about water contamination and the potential for the effects on aquatic life, have adopted restrictions on lawn chemicals. Pesticide opponents praise towns for cutting back on pesticide use but say that a ban on private use would make a bigger difference. Ogunquit is among the growing number of Maine towns that are restricting the use of lawn chemicals from municipal property because of environmental and public health concerns. About two dozen other communities have adopted some form of pesticide limits, including Brunswick, Castine and Harpswell. There are common traits among the towns that are limiting pesticides. They tend to have affluent residents that do more lawn care applications employing lawn care companies. Mike Horn, chair of Ogunquit’s Conservation Commission, helped to guide the pesticide restriction to passage at last year’s town meeting. Mr. Horn is worried about lawn chemicals such as phoshorous and nitrogen running downhill during rain. “What is going to happen if this level of pesticides just continues to rise and people’s lawns are just running, you’re just putting a big nail in Mother’s nature’s foot,” said Mr. Horn. He added that by protecting the environment, the […]



EPA Awards Citizens Group for Successfully Banning Pesticide Use in Its Community

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2009) The Maine advocacy group, Citizens for a Green Camden, has been presented with a 2009 Environmental Merit Award by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in recognition of their significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving. This group of concerned citizens works “to make their community a better and healthier place to live [by] focusing specifically on the elimination of poisons being used on lawns in their community,” according to the EPA press statement. Beyond Pesticides applauds EPA and urges more awards like this to end harmful and unnecessary pesticide use. Citizens for a Green Camden’s first milestone victory provided information which led to the passage of its policy to eliminate the use of pesticides in parks and on playing fields, which led to a similar policy in neighboring Rockport. They also compare notes with ofher citizen groups. The organization continues to work to educate homeowners about the dangers of using poisons on their lawns, running programs and providing written educational materials for residents at the town office. It was able to convince the town Bed and Breakfasts to join their efforts by not using pesticides on their properties, advertising those partners at the […]



Rockport, Maine Passes Pesticide-Free Policy

(Beyond Pesticides, June 16, 2008) Due to concerns of children being exposed to pesticides on the town’s fields, Rockport, Maine has adopted a new pest management policy that prohibits the use of toxic pesticides on town-owned property, according to the Knox County Times Reporter. The Rockport select board passed the policy unanimously. The policy mirrors that of Camden with a few slight changes concerning the pest management advisory committee. Alex Arau, the board member who introduced the policy, became concerned after realizing that pesticides were sprayed on the towns’ fields where children played in the grass and dirt. Steve McAllister, Rockport commission member, told the Knox County Times Reporter, “Sixteen years ago, the conservation commission asked the selectmen not to use [chemicals]. We were assured that it was OK and told it was more important to rid the town of dandelions than worry about chemicals.” “Times have changed and it is time for us to look at how we manage our fields differently,” Mr. Arau told the paper. The growth of the pesticide-free zone movement around the country and the passage of pesticide-free public land policies are very promising. Most recently, the General Services Administration has begun implementing an organic […]



Camden, Maine Passes Pesticide-Free Policy

(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 […]



Maine Passes GE Crop Bill to Protect Farmers

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2008) After almost a year and a half of debate on genetically engineered (GE) crops, the Maine Legislature passed a bill last week to protect farmers from genetic trespass. According to Protect Maine Farmers, the bill prevents lawsuits for patent infringement against farmers who unintentionally end up with GE material in their crops; ensures lawsuits that do occur will be held in the state of Maine; and, directs the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to develop and implement specific practices, or Best Management Practices, for growing GE crops. One component of the bill that was supported by many Maine farmers but failed would have required all businesses selling GE seeds in Maine to report their annual sales data to the Maine Commissioner of Agriculture. “Maine’s farmers now have some substantial assurance that if they save seed that has been contaminated by [GE] varieties, they are not at risk for a lawsuit,” states Logan Perkins, the lead organizer for Protect Maine Farmers. “Hopefully, the development of these Best Management Practices will give farmers the information they need to make good decisions about how to protect themselves, their livelihoods and their neighbors when using [GE] crops.” […]



Bird Eggs Found to Contain Chemical Contaminants

(Beyond Pesticides, March 12, 2008) BioDiversity Research Institute, a nonprofit ecological research group, released a new report that was presented March 12, 2008 to Maine’s Joint Standing Committee on Natural Resources. Entitled “Contaminant Screening in Maine Birds,” it documents over 100 harmful contaminants that were found in Maine bird eggs. Scientists collected 60 eggs, representing 23 species of birds, all of which test positive for chemical contaminants, some at levels believed to be harmful to the birds. Flame retardants (PBDEs), industrial stain and water repellants (PFCs), transformer coolants (PCBs), pesticides (OCs), and mercury are found in all 23 species of birds tested. The bird species studied live in a variety of habitats: on Maine’s ocean, salt marshes, rivers, lakes and uplands. “This is the most extensive study of its kind to date and the first time industrial stain and water repellants were discovered in Maine birds,” says report author, senior research biologist Wing Goodale with the Institute. The Common loon, Atlantic puffin, piping plover, belted kingfisher, great black-backed gull, peregrine falcon and bald eagle have the highest contaminant levels. The flame retardant deca-BDE, banned last year in Maine, is found in eight species. Overall, eagles carry the greatest contaminant load, […]



Maine Tackles Chemicals In Consumer Products

(Beyond Pesticides, December 19, 2007) Maine Governor John Baldacci’s 2008 legislative packet is set to include recommendations made by the task force he commissioned to develop safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals in consumer goods and services. The Task Force to Promote Safer Chemicals in Consumer Products, submitted its report on Monday after a 16 month study identifying chemicals that should be phased out of Maine households and businesses. Governor Baldacci plans to submit a bill incorporating task force recommendations to develop a comprehensive chemicals policy focusing on the safety of consumer products. Among the findings of the 13-member task force, which was commissioned in February 2006, was a lack of federal regulation to ensure consumers have access to environmentally safe products, and health costs that have spiked in part to exposure to chemicals such as lead and pesticides, the use of which has tripled in Maine in the past 15 years. These chemicals, the report says present “significant risk of adverse health consequences ranging from subtle cognitive development to chronic disease and premature death.” Currently, there are more than 8,900 pesticidal products that can be legally applied in Maine, and about 431 confirmed cases of exposure to pesticides were reported […]



Maine Withdraws Opposition to Bt Corn

(Beyond Pesticides, August 3, 2007) Maine is no longer the only state to prohibit the use of genetically altered corn. Despite concern from the organic farming community, Maine joined the rest of the nation last Friday when the Board of Pesticide Control (BPC) ruled to allow Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) corn to be grown and sold in the state of Maine. With the aim of reducing the use of hazardous pesticides, the BPC registered Bt corn products from Dow AgroSciences, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Monsanto to be grown for animal feed. Bt corn is genetically modified to produce its own pesticide, a naturally occurring toxin that protects against a combination of insects. Organic growers caution that overuse of the crop will lead to insect resistance to the Bt toxin, which is widely sprayed on organic crops. “I think it might very well be a short-term solution and farmers will be forced to use more pesticides in the future,” said Board member Lee Humphreys, a market gardener. She warned that there are too many unknowns about the genetically modified corn, such as its long-term effect on the soil and in creating resistant bugs. In addition, the safety of consuming milk and beef […]