Marin County strengthens IPM policy
During the past few decades, Marin County has been at the forefront of a movement that emphasizes environmentally responsible pest management in urban settings. In recent years Marin County government departments have reduced their pesticide use by more than 75%, and pesticides still in use generally are less toxic than those used before.
Recently, UC IPM Affiliate Advisor Steven Swain served as part of a team that refined the county’s ongoing IPM program to achieve even more effective, yet realistic, pesticide reduction targets while maintaining acceptable levels of pest control.
New aspects include focusing public attention on the program; designating county turf areas, playgrounds, and picnic areas as pesticide-free zones; evaluating potential pesticide reductions for specific sites; and having more stringent public notices. In addition, many more pesticides will require an official exemption in order to be used.
To attain the dramatic reduction in pesticide use, Marin’s IPM policy includes vertebrate, arthropod, and weed management guidelines. For example, to control rodents the county is using traps instead of poison baits and establishing barn owl boxes on county-maintained properties. Insect control practices include maintaining strict sanitation policies in buildings the county operates and introducing predators and other natural controls.
To control weeds, county personnel are hand pulling or flaming where possible. When herbicides must be used, the county uses straight glyphosate with soy-based sticker-spreaders instead of commercially available, read-to-use herbicides such as Roundup or Ronstar G.
Marin County first created a Parks and Recreation Department IPM policy in 1983, and in 1998, it passed an ordinance that set IPM standards and practices for all county departments.
The Marin County IPM Commission is comprised primarily of members of the public and includes several county staff from the landscape and building maintenance departments. Swain provides IPM expertise to the committee.
Legislation such as the Healthy Schools Act (Assembly Bill 2260) of 2000 and the creation of local IPM organizations such as the Bay Friendly Landscaping and Gardening Coalition support the county’s goal of reducing citizen and environmental exposure to pesticides.
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