Wednesday, April 13, 2016

County of Marin bans Glyphosate while Marinwood CSD just approved its use in parks, playgrounds and open space.

County of Marin Takes Baby Steps Towards a Toxic-Free Approach to Vegetation Management 

Sir Francis Drake Median, where County Parks will test a new toxic-free
approach to vegetation management (Frankie Frost - Marin IJ)
Hi Neighbors and Friends,

Yesterday, the Marin County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved County Parks Staff's proposal to test out a toxic-free approach to vegetation management on County traffic medians, which would eliminate the use of conventional herbicides, including Glyhosate-based formulations.  Glyphosate is the main ingredient in the toxic herbicide Roundup and has been identified as a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO).  Staff's plan involves testing the new toxic-free maintenance methods for about a year, at which point Staff will return with an evaluation of the effectiveness of the program. 

The toxic-free approach will cost $100,000/yr more than the previous maintenance method of using conventional herbicides like Roundup.  This is money well spent and a pittance compared to the County's total budget (over $519 million in expenditures for Year 2015-16) or the medical costs of even one person developing a serious illness due to exposure to a Glyphosate-based herbicide.

In addition, the Supervisors allocated $100,000 for an Educational Outreach Program to educate the public about reducing the use of hazardous herbicides.  While tending to their gardens, homeowners use the greatest amount of Roundup in Marin.

The Board's actions follow a previous decision, made earlier in the year, to eliminate the use of toxic Glyphosate-based herbicides in County Park Facilities.  

With these baby steps, the Supervisors and the County are moving in the right direction but much more must be done to protect the environment and public health and safety.  The new toxic-free maintenance methods only apply to the 147 sites managed by Marin County Parks (approximately 3,300 acres).  However, the majority of lands under the County's stewardship are the 34 Marin County Open Space District preserves, which consist of nearly 16,000 acres.  Conventional herbicides, like toxic Roundup, are still being used in these preserves.  

To urge the Supervisors to make greater strides towards protecting the environment and the public from hazardous toxins, Sustainable TamAlmonte made the following recommendations, which unfortunately were not addressed:

- Direct Staff to eliminate Glyphosate-based herbicides from the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program's "Allowed Products List" by no later than January 2017.  (As long as Glyphosate remains on the IPM products list, County Parks Staff can return to using Glyphosate-based herbicides at any time.)

-Direct Staff to develop a plan and cost estimate for an alternative design of traffic medians, which would minimize the need for weed maintenance.  (Staff mentioned that they would consider such a plan sometime in the future.  Our request was to get started on it right away.)

- Require the Marin County Open Space District Vegetation and Biodiversity Plan Draft Environmental Impact Report's (DEIR) alternative analysis to include a "No Pesticide Alternative".  (By not evaluating a "No Pesticide Alternative" approach to vegetation management in the Marin County Open Space District, the DEIR violates the California Environmental Quality Act.  Moreover, it makes it more difficult for the Supervisors to move forward on extending the toxic-free maintenance approach to the Marin County Open Space preserves.)

- Officially bring the Marin County Open Space District under the Integrated Pest Management Ordinance.  (Currently, the Marin County IPM Ordinance, Policy and Program only apply to Marin County Parks but not to the Marin County Open Space District.  The IPM Program provides for greater protections, oversight and transparency, which could greatly benefit the Open Space preserves.)

Supporters of "Pesticide-Free" Marin will need to continue their efforts to persuade the Supervisors to give the Marin County Open Space District the same protections as Marin County Parks.

For more details, please read the below Marin IJ article by Nels Johnson entitled; "Marin eliminates use of glyphosate on traffic median strips."

Thank you to all of you who attended the hearing and sent in letters.  Together, we made a difference!


Sharon Rushton
Sustainable TamAlmonte |

See the story in the Marin IJ HERE
Meanwhile, in Marinwood, the CSD unanimously approved the use of pesticides including Glyphosate in the Parks, Playgrounds and Open Space in February 2016. 
I was the only person to speak out against its use and was silenced. It is illegal EVERYWHERE IN MARIN COUNTY PARKS. Undocumented pesticide use has been happening in Lucas Valley as recently as a few weeks ago. 

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