Ashland seminar explores pesticide-free approach

The Rogue Group Sierra Club will hold a seminar on 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 Branch Library, 410 Siskiyou Blvd. 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. Connor 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 talk about specific ways that 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.

Ashland citizens have been urging the Ashland Parks Department to move to a robust integrated pest management system in which chemical pesticides are used as a last resort. Hundreds of citizens and dozens of businesses signed a petition last spring urging the city to remove the department's exemption from the city's 1996 pesticide ordinance, which requires that chemical pesticides be "reduced or eliminated."

Last fall, the Ashland Parks Commission 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, and it is now available for 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.

— Paul Fattig

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