9/14/2019 – Montgomery County, Maryland. The results from July’s hearing on pesticide use in the Montgomery Parks were mostly disappointing but there are some wins for the public. The hearing was held by Montgomery County Council’s Planning, Housing, & Economic Development Committee (PHED) and Councilmember Tom Hucker to hear presentation by Montgomery Parks Director Mike Riley and Parks senior staff, and Parks & Planning (MNCPPC) Chair Casey Anderson. (The video, 2.12hr, can be watched here.)
This year, Safe Grow Montgomery and partners started a Pesticide-Free Parks Campaign. The weeks prior to the hearing, hundreds of Montgomery County residents signed our petition urging for an end to the use of Roundup weed killer on common weeds, and for a complete transition to pesticide-free in all the parks. Their letters were sent to Director Riley, Director Anderson, and Council Members.
Unfortunately, this is what Montgomery Parks, and Parks and Planning, decided to push for and will go ahead with:
- Montgomery Parks will continue to use the toxic Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers for common weeds (on children’s playing fields, tree bases, sidewalks and parking lots, planting beds and more).
Roundup and glyphosate-based weed killers have been the subject of cancer lawsuits, currently with 18,000+ lawsuits lined up against the manufacturer Bayer/Monsanto.
- Brookside Gardens and some parks will continue the cosmetic use of toxic pesticides on lawns for common weeds (with no end date). This will also continue in the immediate proximity of children’s playing fields.
- Montgomery Parks will transition ONLY 1 playing field to pesticide-free, whereas the law had mandated for at least 5 pesticide-free playing fields. Parks manages 342 athletic fields. This public has been shut out of this process, there has been no opportunity for formal public input, and no advance public notice of this change in the implementation of the county’s new pesticide law (aka Healthy Lawns Act).
- For all other playing fields, toxic pesticide use will continue. The competitive playing fields will have the most pesticides used on it, whereas the neighborhood fields will have less.
To our dismay, this means park visitors, especially children and pets, will continue to be bombarded with toxic weed killers and other pesticides with strong links to cancer and health harms. Also, our waterways and wildlife, such as bees and birds, will continue to be at risk of contamination and harm.
On the bright side, Montgomery Parks is feeling the pressure from residents’ letters and there are some gains for the public:
- The parks director stated that they will add more parks to the Pesticide-Free Parks program, however no details or timeline were given. So far, only 10 parks have been transitioned to pesticide-free out of 422 parks.
- The parks director committed to now publicly list ALL upcoming pesticide applications on their website. Previously, only certain applications were shared with the public. This is a win for public transparency. Before heading to the parks, you can find ongoing pesticide applications at: https://www.montgomeryparks.org/about/parks/pesticides/
- The park is testing 2 steam weeding machines on children’s playgrounds. The machines uses water and a natural product.
- Montgomery Parks will be creating an advisory group so stakeholders can weigh in. We hope this will include Safe Grow Montgomery and concern parents.
If we don’t ask, we don’t get.
A BIG THANKS to everyone that sent letters or came to the hearing. There is more work ahead for residents. Our vision is to have all the county parks be truly safe – pesticide-free – starting for this generation of children to enjoy. We hope you will stay engage and continue to help us advocate on this issue.
Want to help more on this issue to move it forward? Please contact us at SafeGrowMC@gmail.com.Safe Grow Montgomery is a volunteer organization. Please consider making a donation to support our efforts.
Here is an example of the pesticide spraying for the coming week, as listed on the parks website on 9/14/19:
|Park Name||Planned Date||Planned Time||Description of Area to be Treated||Product/Reason|
|Brookside Gardens||9/9 – 9/13/19||8:00 am – 4:00 pm||Tree circles, landscape beds, and forest edges in Gude and Viburnum Gardens||Prosecutor Pro will be sprayed to target broadleaf weeds and protect plantings|
|Bennett Creek Conservation Park||9/9 – 9/13/19||7:00 am – 5:00 pm||Meadow area west of power lines in West/Northwest corner of the park.||Garlon 3A and/or Aquaneat will be sprayed to target invasive and noxious weeds to restore habitat and protect ecosystem.|
|Sligo Creek Stream Valley Unit #4||9/16 – 9/20/19||7:00 am – 5:00 pm||Hillside meadow and are bordering wood edge on top side of hill.||Garlon 3A and/or Rodeo will be spot sprayed to target invasive and noxious weeds to restore habitat and protect ecosystem.|
|Rachel Carson Conservation Park||9/16 – 9/20/19||7:00 am – 5:00 pm||Front half of the meadow (closest to parking lot)||Garlon 3A and/or Rodeo will be sprayed to target invasive and noxious weeds to restore habitat and protect ecosystem.|
|Brookside Gardens||9/17/19||7:00 am – 10:00 am||Rose Garden||Myclobutanil will be sprayed to prevent fungal disease and protect plantings.|
|Brookside Gardens||9/16 – 9/17/19||7:00 am – 3:30 pm||planting beds around the Conservatory||Treflan will be broadcast spread to suppress plant growth to protect plantings.|
|Wheaton Claridge Local Park||9/16- 9/20/19||7:00 am – 5:00 pm||meadows and natural “no mow areas” throughout the park||Garlon 3A will be spot sprayed with the option for cut/stump treatments as needed to target invasive and noxious weeds to restore habitat and protect ecosystem.|
|Kilgour Branch Stream Valley Park Unit #1||9/16- 9/20/19||7:00 am – 5:00 pm||Hillside between storm water management pond and the neighboring houses located at Colebrook Ct. and Colebrook Ter.||Aquaneat will be sprayed to target invasive and noxious weeds to restore habitat and protect ecosystem.|
|Blockhouse Point Conservation Park||9/16- 9/20/19||7:00 am – 5:00 pm||wooded area adjacent to northern parking lot and along the wooded edge bordering River Rd.||Aquaneat and/or Rodeo will be sprayed with the option for cut/stump treatments as needed to target invasive and noxious weeds to restore habitat and protect ecosystem.|
|Brookside Gardens||9/17- 9/19/19||8:00 am – 10:00 am||North Conservatory, permanent plant collection||Mosquito Dunks will be applied as a granular application to target insect pests to prevent harm|
|Brookside Gardens||9/23/19||2:00 pm- 4:00 pm||South Conservatory, all plant material||Conserve will be sprayed to target insect pests in compliance with state law|
|Cabin John Athletic Area||9/17 – 9/19/19||6:00 am – 2:00 pm||Field #2, outfield||Prosedge will be sprayed to target nutsedge for player safety|