A typical pesticide flag used to mark areas that have been spread with herbicide. Courtesy photo
BY DINA PESENSON
Los Alamos County Environmental Sustainability Board
Back in May 2016 I saw a notice in the paper showing the full list of county parks, green areas and sports fields to be sprayed by Roundup and EndRun herbicides over the next 10 days. Mountain Elementary was having it’s family picnic on one of those days at Urban Park. Quite a few of us talked to the county Parks staff and they agreed to postpone that application until the next Parks and Rec board meeting where we could bring up our concerns. However, before the next Parks and Rec board meeting, being newly aware I guess, I smelled and then saw a 6ft wide swath of dying grass on either side of Sandia Road including the bus stops and yards, dead grass along High School tennis courts and Western Area Park paths, and watched Roundup sprayed from a moving cart vehicle onto rockscaping along UNM-LA field with the wind carrying the spray all over the applicators, into morning traffic and onto students walking to class at the High School. What followed was a crash course in local government, herbicide use, history, effects on health and environment and very little sleep.
Many good things came out of that experience but most notably a successful petition to the county Parks and Rec Manager that resulted in Western Area Park being managed entirely through natural methods without herbicide use for over 5 years now with great success and much to the appreciation of local residents. We also took turns at Farmers Market every week and went door to door on weekends to let folks know what was being sprayed, why and where. However, staff and residents turn over after time and there are more county departments than just Parks that use herbicides on county land. It is impossible to keep up the education and communication just on the free time of the enthusiastic residents and staff alone. In view of this, I’m asking the Environmental Sustainability Board, at their meeting this Thursday, Oct. 21 to consider my motion to make a recommendation to County Council regarding use of glyphosate-containing herbicides as well as online public notifications of chemical applications and expansion of Integrated Pest Management efforts on county land.
A dead grass strip on a lawn along Sandia Road. Courtesy photo
It is always extremely helpful to staff, council and boards to know what the community thinks and wants. If you would like to share your thoughts, preferences, comments or questions you can do the following:
- you can watch my 23 minute presentation to ESB from last month on herbicide use and effects here. The follow up discussion includes the reasoning for writing this article and soliciting your input. If you are not familiar with county meeting recordings, the agenda is scrollable directly below the video and you can click the relevant links on the agenda to be taken directly to that portion of the video. Click on Pesticide Presentation and Discussion link in the agenda.
- If you would like to contribute input during the meeting, please attend the ESB meeting this Thursday Oct. 21 at 5:30pm via zoom link provided in the meeting agenda here. If you are not able to participate in the meeting to make public comment, please consider sending your comments in via email to ESB@lacnm.us and PRB@lacnm.us any time before, during or after the meeting (although comments given before Thursday or during the meeting would be most helpful to ESB if they do choose to vote on Thursday evening).
Dead grass along a Western Area path and backyard with dogs. Courtesy photo