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New Paltz, NY Goes Organic, Hopes to Set Example for Residents

(Beyond Pesticides, June 27, 2008) New Paltz, NY parks and green spaces are going organic with the hope that residents will follow suit and stop treating their lawns with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Final approval of the legislation that would prohibit pesticides on town property is “just a lawyerly tweak away from becoming law,” according to Alice Andrews, a member of the village environmental commission and organizer of an organics task force.

Ms. Andrews was motivated to work on the issue when she learned about the health and environmental hazards of commonly used lawn pesticides. Of 30 commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 are linked with cancer or carcinogencity, 13 are linked with birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 15 with neurotoxicity, and 11 with disruption of the endocrine (hormonal) system. Of those same 30 lawn pesticides, 17 are detected in groundwater, 23 have the ability to leach into drinking water sources, 24 are toxic to fish and other aquatic organisms vital to our ecosystem, 11 are toxic to bees, and 16 are toxic to birds.

Ms. Andrews originally planned to propose legislation that would have banned or limited pesticide use for all village properties, private and public. However, state pesticide preemption laws prohibit communities from passing laws that are more protective than state laws. “What we’ve decided is to try every other angle, especially education,” Ms. Andrews told the Times Herald-Record. To that end, the task force has created posters that urge residents to sign a myspace.com petition urging Ulster County to ban pesticides.

Ms. Andrews hopes the New Paltz town website will soon have a page devoted to lawn pesticides and organic alternatives. With the passage of time, she hopes “social pressure” will do what formal legislation cannot.

This move follows policies passed in recent months by local officials in Camden, ME, Voorhees, NJ, and Rockport, ME, which ban pesticides in community parks and playing fields.

Source: The Times Herald-Record

For more information on organic turf management, please visit our Lawns and Landscapes program page. To find a service provider that practices least- or non-toxic methods, visit the Safety Source for Pest Management. 


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