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Going Pesticide Free in Parks

The Portland Tribune does a nice job of explaining a pilot program to go pesticide free in a few of Portland’s parks. The basic message is that if you want to go pesticide free it will require both volunteers and money. The parks department has partnered with a nonprofit that has organized 244 volunteers who have put in a combined 1,374 hours to remove weeds by hand.

[John] Reed [the city’s pest management coordinator] estimated that each year an average five-acre neighborhood park in Portland gets about 28 ounces of Roundup and six ounces of Surflan. It costs about $371 to keep weeds out of some parks. Pesticide-free parks, on the other hand, come with a surprising price tag — about $3,600 in annual maintenance costs, and $9,455 in startup costs for each new park.

Volunteer labor doesn’t come cheap, according to Reed. “It takes a lot of work to make sure volunteers show up and are supported,” he said. That includes parks department employees hauling weeds collected by the volunteers, and walking through parks to make sure weeds are under control, Reed said.

Portland has a strong track record in being able to recruit volunteers to help out in parks — especially on the front of invasive species and environmental management. If parks are to be without pesticides and without weeds, volunteers may be a necessary ingredient.

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