Friday, July 27, 2012

“Lawns for Lobsters” Grows as Result of Two Town’s Collaboration

Hunter and Sawyer LaChance plant a Lawns for Lobsters sign to let others know that their yard is maintained in a way that's good for the environment. (courtesy photo)
In an unprecedented alliance, volunteers at the Kennebunkport Conservation Commission are teaming up with members of the Kennebunk Conservation and Open Space Planning Commission to boost area-wide awareness about the impact of pesticides in the two towns.
Kennebunkport’s successful Lawns For Lobsters program presently addresses public awareness about pesticide runoff from lawns into local waterways. “Most of Kennebunkport’s streams begin in Kennebunk and both towns share the Kennebunk River,” notes Sarah LaChance, Chairman of Kennebunkport’s commission. “We all benefit from a healthy approach to the care of our lawns and gardens. Good practices about the use of pesticides are easy and less expensive in the long run.”
Alex Mendelsohn, chairman of Kennebunk's commission, describes how the collaboration between the two commissions is expected to foster wider understanding of how pesticides affect the environment. “While both towns have pesticide usage policies on the books, many citizens are unaware of these policies,” he said.
Maine's pesticide usage went from 800,000 pounds annually about ten years ago to well over 4 million pounds a year now. That works out to as much as three pounds of active ingredient per non-forested acre. “Off-the-shelf pesticides are widely available at retail stores,” adds Mendelsohn.
Official pesticide usage policies at both towns now cover town-owned lands, focusing on using established best practices for application, and the consolidated school district has its own pesticide policy.
“We’re now expanding our awareness campaign to the wider community,” Mendelsohn says. “These policies stem from a so-called Precautionary Principle that was spelled out a decade ago by scientists at the Wingspread Conference.
“The Precautionary Principle states that that when an activity poses a threat to the environment or to human health, precautions should be taken, even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established.”
Pests can include undesirable terrestrial and aquatic plants, as well as insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and nematodes. Rodents, birds, and even some animals and microorganisms can also be declared as pests under some Federal and state laws.
Common examples of pests in turf grass are crabgrass, knotweed, poison ivy, chinch bugs, grubs, and a variety of plant pathogens. The use of pesticides to deal with these problems can affect people, pets, well water, surface water, and terrestrial and aquatic wildlife.