Pesticide seminar set for Wednesday

The Rogue Group Sierra Club will hold a seminar Wednesday intended to demonstrate how Ashland can reduce or eliminate the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides in the city's parks and schools.

The workshop will begin at 7 p.m. in the Gresham Room, downstairs in the Ashland Public Library. The event is open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

The program will feature Shelly Connor, the Pesticide Free Parks coordinator for the National Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides in Eugene. She will discuss how other cities have established pesticide free parks and how to make comments on a proposed draft policy for Ashland.

She will also discuss ways the Ashland Parks Department could reduce pesticide use in city parks and other areas where it sprays.

The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department applies chemicals over dozens of sites in Ashland each year, including the grounds of Ashland public schools, parks, the city hospital and golf course.

Last fall, the Ashland Parks Commissioned formed the formed the Pesticide Subcommittee to revise their current pesticide policy. Working with the department staff, the subcommittee published a draft integrated pest management policy in early March which is now available public review.

The department will hold a public hearing on the policy revisions beginning at 6 p.m. March 31 at the Ashland Senior Center.

"Seventeen cities in the Northwest, including Seattle and Portland have greatly reduced the use of pesticides in their city parks," said Tom Dimitre, the Rogue Group Sierra Club chair. "Arcata (California) has parks that are completely pesticide free. If they can do it, why not in Ashland?"

"The draft pesticide policy being proposed is very weak and needs to be greatly strengthened if Ashland is going to rid its parks of pesticides," Dimitre said. "Stronger pesticide elimination/reduction language, better oversight, posted notification prior to spraying, a citizen's oversight committee, and larger no-spray buffer zones around children's playgrounds, riparian areas, picnic areas and community gardens are also needed."

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