County adds to coffers for campaign against pesticide use

09/28/2017

When it comes to pesticide use in Marin, private citizens may be the biggest culprits, and a current campaign to curb that use just got a funding boost. Last year, the parks department received $100,000 from the county and $90,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency to develop the “Think Before You Spray” campaign to raise awareness of the impacts and alternatives to pesticide use in residential yards and gardens. The campaign included the formation of a coalition with local partners, the development of a website and grassroots outreach. Another $40,000 dedicated by the supervisors this month will extend the campaign another year, focusing on education concerning rodenticides and insecticides. The campaign website currently includes resources about the dangers of pesticides, alternative weed management practices and tools to help identify weeds and other invasives. Kevin Wright, a spokesman for Marin County Parks, said they have monitored the success of the campaign in part by evaluating its “reach,” or the number of people who have “come in contact with the campaign, including on the website or through tabling and billboards.” To date, this number is 1.62 million. “Using accessible language in these outreach efforts, we want to give residents some information about all their options before they pick up a spray bottle,” Mr. Wright said. “There are county practices that reduce pesticide usage, but we realized that those same pesticides are flying off the shelves at Home Depot.” The county’s success in keeping poisons out of its parks and open space comes at least in part as a result of an integrated pest management ordinance established in 1983 and amended in recent years. The relatively progressive policies include prohibitions of the most toxic pesticides. Thanks to the ordinance, in 2016, the county successfully managed the vast majority of its sites—126 of 147—without pesticides. Nevertheless, Marin Agricultural Commissioner Stacy Carlsen said that his office licensed the use of about 2,500 pounds of glyphosate in 2016 in Marin, and he estimates that twice that was used in the private sector. Products containing the likely carcinogen are also used on federal lands in the county, such as in the Point Reyes National Seashore. Visit yardsmartmarin.org to learn more about the “Think! Before You Spray” campaign.