An Anne Arundel County councilman wants parks employees to take a closer look at how they manage pests at public parks.
The new legislation, championed by Councilman Chris Trumbauer (D-6th District), enacts an integrated pest management plan for the county's Recreation and Parks Department.
“I originally set out to ban herbicides and pesticides altogether,” Trumbauer said. “This approach is more iterative.”
The new approach will prioritize types of pesticides used at county parks based on their toxicity to ensure that the least toxic alternative is used whenever possible, he said. Another requirement of the legislation is additional signage for the public when these pesticides are used.
Trumbauer said the idea struck him while he was visiting a county park with his children and discovered a sign nearby with a “no children” warning, because the parks department was spraying for hornets.
“That’ll really get your attention—especially if you’re with your children on a playground,” he said. “It also brings up the larger implication to me of applying toxic substances on areas where there is a high public use.”
The legislation was based on how the county school system handles pests. It’s a less strict approach than the one Washington DC’s Council recently approved, which prohibits pesticides from use at schools, day care centers, government buildings and within 25 feet of waterways.
Alan Friedman, representative for the county executive, said the administration supports the bill, but noted that it would come with an increased cost to the county, and would have to wait until the next budget year to be implemented.
"There is some additional cost that will have to be budgeted for," Friedman said. "But we believe this is a very positive approach to a very serious problem."
Trumbauer said he did not expect this change in pest management to slow down the treatment of pests. In case of an infestation or emergency situation, pesticides can be rapidly deployed to control the situation, he said.
“There will always have to be some sort of process to allow for treatment of emergency situations,” Trumbauer said.
The legislation sailed through with a unanimous vote from the seven members of the County Council. It is set to go into effect starting July 1, 2013. To review the full legislation, see the County Council's website, or the PDF attached to this article.