Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Everett Herald Article

Great Article in the Everett Herald by Debra Smith this Monday.

Here is the link:

Everett Neighborhood Experiments With Pesticide-free Park
Lowell Park's neighbors get their hands dirty in Everett Experiment

EVERETT -- Megan Dunn's anti-chemical crusade began after she spotted masked workers spraying at the park near her home in the Lowell neighborhood.

Her two young children were playing not far away. That gave her pause."I started to think there's got to be a better way," she said. "We don't need to use pesticides."
Now she heads a pilot project at Lowell Park testing what happens when a park goes pesticide-free. Volunteers weed landscaped areas. City workers continue to mow grass and trim branches.

The city has agreed to abstain from applying pesticides.

The parks department is working actively with the group on the project, said John Petersen, the assistant director for park planning and maintenance.

"I'd like to see it succeed for the people who want it to succeed," he said. "That said, I don't think we are doing a thing that is wrong."

Before the city commits to expanding the idea to other parks, they have to make sure it will work, he said.

Officials want to see if they can meet the public's expectation for park appearance without using chemicals.

They also want to take a hard look at the cost.

The city has reduced its pesticide use by an estimated 80 percent in the past decade, Petersen said. For instance, the city has moved toward using a deep layer of mulch in areas to ward off weeds.

The chemicals typically used in Everett's parks are herbicides -- products designed to kill weeds. Last year in Everett, 1,960 pounds of a granular herbicide were spread over 21 acres of landscaped beds in 52 locations.

Another 870 gallons of herbicide was sprayed over that same area. Most of those gallons were water diluting the active chemical ingredients, Petersen said.

Workers apply an herbicide in the spring to keep weeds from sprouting and then spray problem areas again later in the season, he said.

Going pesticide-free in public spaces is an idea slowly and sporadically taking hold in the Northwest.

Cities including Snohomish, Seattle, Shoreline and Redmond have made more intensive efforts to reduce pesticide use in public parks, said Josh Vincent, a spokesman for the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, based in Eugene, Ore.

"The No. 1 challenge is money," Vincent said. "Cities are concerned it will cost them more to manage the park at the aesthetic level people expect without a chemical tool."

Chemical controls are cheaper than paying for more labor, he said. However, there might be other "hidden costs," such as lawsuits, that aren't readily apparent.

It makes sense to forgo chemicals because other alternatives exist that don't pose an impact to people or the environment, Vincent said. Parks draw the very people most susceptible to the long-term effects of chemicals: children.

His organization advocates that cities use integrated pest management, a strategy that greatly reduces but doesn't completely eliminate chemicals. Under IPM, a city would improve the conditions for plants by design or by improving soil so plants can naturally compete better against weeds. Workers chose to take care of problems manually -- for instance, pulling weeds instead of spraying. Chemicals are used as a last resort.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts tremendous effort into ensuring that pesticides are safe for use in public spaces, said Catherine Daniels, a pesticide coordinator with Washington State University and an expert on the safe and proper use of pesticides.

The EPA requires extensive testing of pesticides before they're put on the market and employs chemists and toxicologists who keep on top of new research about the effects of those products. In the past, regulators have been quick to tighten safety standards if researchers turn up concerns.

"I put quite a bit of faith into the EPA's effort that there is a reasonable safety standard," she said.

She also pointed out that integrated pest management costs more and that eliminating 100 percent of pesticides might not be practical.

"It's hard to run a government that way," she said.

The two-year project at Lowell is scheduled to wrap up this winter. So far, the pilot project has demonstrated at least one thing: It's hard to find volunteers.

Dunn, the project organizer at Lowell, said she has a committed but small group of helpers who come regularly.

Friday, those committed few were crouched in the dirt at Lowell Park, tugging at weeds alongside their neighbors. The 10-acre park looked at least as well maintained as other city parks.

One of the volunteers, Laura Wilson, has lived in Lowell 27 years. At first, the self-described "pitiful gardener" was a little intimidated about helping take care of such a large park. Now she's glad she gets to spend time with some of her neighbors.

She hopes city leaders expand the project to other areas of the city and perhaps get their hands dirty, too.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Park Sign

Thanks to Gail, Elizabeth, Laura (and myself) for clearing out around the Lowell sign so the Parks Department could plant flowers!
We still have a lot of weeds popping up with all this rain. If you can't make a group weeding day, feel free to pull weeds and bag them! Contact me if you'd like to plan a weeding day!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Summer Weeding Schedule

Did you know the cities of Seattle, Snohomish and Lynnwood all have city wide pesticide free policies? We have ONE pesticide free park in the city of Everett and if you can join us as a volunteer, we could expand to other parks. Volunteers are needed to help weed and maintain the Lowell Neighborhood Park without the use of pesticides or herbicides.

Friday June 24th from 12-2
Friday July 8th from 10-2
August 19th, 12-2, Ice Cream Social/Weed Pulling!

Weeding parties are fun and great way to meet your neighbors. Light refreshments and tools provided.
call Megan at 425-252-6265 or email: PesticideFreeEverett at (replace the at with an @, posting it this way is to prevent spam!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Weeds Love Our Park

Look at that giant dandelion, pulled by hand without the use of chemicals!

We had a dedicated group of volunteers for April who weeded around the park sign. If you catch a few hours of sunshine and find yourself at the park, feel free to pull a few dandelions, my kids (and your and all of ours) will thank you for it!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Pesticide Exposure in Womb Affects I.Q.

Re-posted from the New York Times, April 21, 2011, 1:40 pm
Linked HERE.

Pesticide Exposure in Womb Affects I.Q.

Caleb Kenna for The New York Times

Steps can also be taken to minimize exposure to pesticides in foods, particularly among pregnant women. Buying organic foods can help because certified organic fruits and vegetables aren’t grown with organophosphate pesticides. Better washing and peeling of conventionally grown produce can also reduce exposure.

The Environmental Working Group offers a shopper’s guide showing which foods have the highest and lowest rates of pesticide exposure. Strawberries, peaches, celery, apples and spinach typically have the highest levels of pesticide residue among commercially grown fruits and vegetables. Onions, avocado, frozen corn and pineapple had the lowest levels of pesticide residue.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Earth Day 2011 Be There!

The forecast calls for sun, so meet up with us at Lowell Neighborhood Park on Friday, April 22nd from 3-5 pm for some fun! Weeding, refreshments and a kick off to maintaining our part without pesticides.

Where: Lowell Neighborhood Park
What: Weeding
When; 3-5 pm, Friday, April 22nd

Email with questions. Families welcome.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Earth Day 2011

Save the date, Earth Day is coming up!

Friday, April 22nd, we'll meet at Lowell Park and start off the Pesticide Free season. Time to be announced.

Sno-Isle Food Co-op in Everett is hosting a movie night, they are showing Human Footprint at 6:00 pm, free and open to the public. See their website for more details:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Trees At Lowell Park

The PUD has cut down at least 4 trees along South 3rd Ave at Lowell Neighborhood Park. The crew foreperson claimed they were too close to the power lines. We have been told that they will replant trees in this area. For now, it's a very sad corner to look at.

The Office of Neighborhoods is working with the Lowell Civic Association to find out why public input and citizen comment was not considered before the trees were removed.