Local group is asking the city to stop using synthetic herbicides and other toxic materials to maintain parks, trails, and streetscapes
EXCERPT: [Michelle Schumacher, a leader with Non Toxic San Clemente, said,] “We’ll pull the weeds in the park if you were going to bring out some Roundup some day. We’ll bring out the Girl Scouts. We’ll help. This is our town. We’re all in this together.”
San Clemente group opposes synthetic herbicide use at parks, trails
By Fred Swegles
Orange County Register, March 15, 2017
A local group is asking the city to follow Irvine’s lead and stop using synthetic herbicides and other toxic materials to maintain parks, trails and streetscapes.
Some 20 people took their message to the Beaches, Parks and Recreation Commission at its meeting on Tuesday, March 14, advocating organic solutions to avoid exposing children and adults to toxic substances.
Commissioners responded to Non Toxic San Clemente’s request by appointing two commissioners to dialog with the group and report back to the commission with possible recommendations.
Several residents with the group Non Toxic San Clemente suggested that San Clemente do like Irvine, which in 2016 announced a policy of using organic pesticides first and applying synthetics only if other treatment options failed.
City staff said that San Clemente already uses organic herbicides and minimizes its use of the synthetic product glyphosate, commonly known by the trade name Roundup.
“Our approach is actually similar to what Irvine adopted last year,” said Tom Bonigut, deputy public works director. “They did not actually ban the use of glyphosate. It’s third in the tier of their integrated pest management policy, and to date I don’t think they have used it … but they can, if they need to in limited circumstances.”
Maintenance costs will rise if the city stops using glyphosate, said Randy Little, the city’s maintenance manager, as those solutions aren’t as effective and require multiple applications.
He said the city, which maintains 140 acres of parks, 15 miles of trails and 40 acres of streetscape, uses methods like mulch applications, releasing beneficial insects and removing weeds mechanically to avoid use of pesticides and herbicides.
“Over the last 12 months we have put out less than 2 ounces per acre per month,” Little said. “We use it very judiciously – 99.9 percent of the time it is never applied to turf and it is never applied in the actual tot lots.”
“If it’s so little, why not stop altogether?” said Michelle Schumacher, a leader with Non Toxic San Clemente.
Kathleen Hallal, a leader with Irvine’s movement, told commissioners that adopting organic methods “costs a little more initially and then your costs actually drop in the long run,” she said, “because your soil is healthier. In Irvine they have dropped the Roundup. They are using organic methods.”
Schumacher said training and tools are available to help San Clemente be successful like Irvine. She said the group isn’t asking for a ban but for an organic policy model seeking to stop using synthetic herbicides, grass with pesticides built into it and toxic fertilizers.
“If there is anything that you come up with, a problem, let us know,” Schumacher said. “We’ll come out. We’ll pull the weeds in the park if you were going to bring out some Roundup some day. We’ll bring out the Girl Scouts. We’ll help. This is our town. We’re all in this together.”