When it comes to plants, as with most things, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One person’s pretty wildflower is another person’s weed. One person’s cultivated prize is another’s gaudy showpiece.
I love the wee white flowers that cover Battle Point Park in spring like a light snowfall, and I miss them after the mowers sheer them away. I also like—gasp—the spindly yellow dandelions that sprout up afterward. They splash welcome yellow on the oceans of monotonous green that in summer dies back to brown.
The monoculture of clipped green grass is an odd aesthetic that nature never would abide without strenuous interference by modern man. Our mowers, trimmers, whackers, blow torches, herbicides, and sweat keep nature’s riot at bay, along with its gifts. I have friends who recently “let their yard go.” Their ill teenage son insisted on it. Not killing one living thing, including a single insect, is his way of holding on. And, as a result, they now have something precious that I haven’t seen for years in my yard—quail—plus many more species who are now finding a home in their unkempt jungle.
Green Movement on Bainbridge
There is a powerful “green” movement on Bainbridge Island. Our Land Trust conserves wild land and shorelines; Friends of the Farms supports local growing; Weed Warriors and Student Conservation Corps remove invasive plant species; Positive Energy improves energy efficiency; the Zero-Waste Initiative and Buy Nothing Bainbridge reduce waste; West Sound Wildlife Shelter rehabilitates wildlife and educates the public about sustainable coexistence with other species; restaurants serve up organic and local food; citizens are going back to growing and raising their own natural food. Last year our city passed a plastic bag ordinance and installed solar panels in city hall.
Pesticides in Our Parks
So why is our Park District still using pesticides? According to Park Services Superintendent Dan Hamlin the Park District sprays every spring and fall in all of its parks, and it “spot sprays” throughout the year. Hamlin said they use glyphosate—the major component of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—on weeds in beds and other mulched areas. Earlier this month I watched a park worker with a tank of liquid herbicide strapped to her back spot spraying around the covered picnic area at Battle Point Park (on the Arrow Point Drive side). She sprayed on mulched beds and around trees throughout the area, a place that is regularly used by families with babies, kids, and dogs who play on the ground.
Hamlin explained that the Park District sprays on days when it is not windy or rainy. He said, “wind creates drift and rain weakens and spreads the formula.” Workers spray in the morning and post 8.5″ x 11″ signs at park entrances for the day informing people that spraying has occurred, with a phone number listed for people to call for further information. I asked if people call, and Hamlin said yes.
If you are chemically sensitive, the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) requires that your Park District inform you of the timing of its pesticide use. Click here to get your name added to the Pesticide Sensitive Registry.
The Dangers of Glyphosate
There is overwhelming data showing the harm of glyphosate. An April 2013 review of hundreds of scientific studies of glyphosate links it to debilitating human diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart problems, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. Glyphosate has been associated with increased risk for damaged DNA and abnormal chromosomes, cancer, miscarriage, and attention deficit disorder (ADD). Studies have shown that glyphosate is toxic to wildlife, particularly amphibians, for whom it is lethal.
But our Park District isn’t the only source of pesticides in our community—by a long shot. Our schools use them, businesses use them, and many citizens continue to use them, despite overwhelming evidence of their harm to all living things and the fact that they leach into our wells, watersheds, and Puget Sound.
Hamlin said the Park District uses only about five gallons of glyphosate annually in its parks, which comprise 1,500 acres.
But why use it at all?
- More Confusion Over School District Herbicide/Pesticide Policy—Legal Action Threatened
- Chemicals in Bainbridge Parks and Schools: Roundup of the Facts
- Visconsi Raises Much Bigger Questions for Bainbridge: Our City Manager & Others Weigh in
- Here Comes the Sun: Solar Panels Go Live on City Hall
- Salmon Come Home to Bainbridge Streams, Spawn the Next Gen (w/ Video)
- EPA Designates Bainbridge a Sole Source Aquifer, Protecting Our Drinking Water
- Eat Your Yard!
- Greening Your Kitchen: A 12-Step Program
- Climate Change on Bainbridge: We’re Talking Wyckoff, Visconsi, SMP & Waterfront Park
- Bainbridge’s Island School Is Greenest in the State
- For 44th Anniversary of Earth Day, COBI Looks Back at a Green Year on Bainbridge
- Bye Bye Baggie: Plastic Ban Begins This Week
- Will ‘Buy Nothing Bainbridge’ Change the World?
Featured photo of Bainbridge Island Park District worker spraying at Battle Point Park in early July, 2014. Photos by Julie Hall.