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6/20/2011—Important News about Pesticide Use on School Grounds
Summer vacation is prime time for turf care on school lawns and sports fields. Before you send your crews out or bring in contractors, there are new legislative developments you should know about. A bill introduced in state legislature this year would have banned pesticides on school grounds, but was amended to focus on minimizing risks of children’s exposure to pesticides. Although pesticides are still allowed under the amended bill, a few commonsense practices—such as spot treating and maximizing the time period between pesticide applications and reentry—will go a long way toward the goal of protecting children.
LD 837—a Resolve to Enhance the Use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on School Grounds—was passed by the Maine State Legislature and will become law in September 2011. Many of you may recall that this bill, as originally proposed, would have banned all pesticide use on public and private K–12 school grounds. After receiving input from stakeholders, including school officials who testified at the hearings, LD 837 was substantially amended to eliminate the pesticide ban; however, the resolve requires development of Best Management Practices (BMPs) and directs the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) to assess compliance with the current school IPM regulations.
Because the Legislature did not simply abandon this proposal altogether, it shows that pesticide use on school properties is likely to remain an important issue. School pesticide bans have recently been imposed in other states in our region and there is considerable and passionate interest in Maine for protecting children from the perceived risks of pesticide exposure.
The most immediate directive from the Legislature is a requirement to develop BMPs for the establishment and maintenance of school lawns, playgrounds, and playing fields. The BMPs must, at a minimum, address soil and site conditions, and establish treatment thresholds and guidelines based on practical considerations and current science.
LD 837 also requires the BPC to conduct an assessment of how well Maine schools are complying with existing school IPM requirements and report the results to the Legislature by February 2012. What does that mean for you? The Maine Department of Agriculture will be conducting a survey and/or on-site inspections to find out what processes you use to make pest control decisions and what products you use for pest control. Your cooperation is essential to ensure the end result is school-friendly.
In addition, a stakeholder group will be convened to help develop BMPs for school grounds. Please contact us if you are willing to serve on this committee. Your expertise is essential!
In the meantime, what should you do to ensure your district is in compliance with existing regulations?
The Maine School IPM Program provides training, checklists, sample documents, and more. All are available on our website: www.maine.gov/agriculture/pesticides/schoolipm/
Kathy Murray, Coordinator
Maine Board of Pesticides Control
Need Additional Pest Help?
University of Maine Pest Management Office
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