April 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 28

HEALTH & WELLNESS

Seattle P&R Tests Glyphosate Alternatives
By Patti Bakker

P

ark and recreation professionals across the country are working to
ensure their agencies adopt best practices that safeguard the public's health. One recent topic that is being debated across the field
is the use of products containing glyphosate in parks, considering
that the International Agency for Research on Cancer recently classified
the chemical as " probably carcinogenic to humans. " To address the potential health threat posed by glyphosate, many agencies are reducing or
eliminating their use of glyphosate products to ensure everyone has access
to safe and healthy spaces. Not only does this shift in practice address the
health of both park staff and their communities by reducing or eliminating
their exposure to the chemical, but also it supports healthier environments
for wildlife, such as pollinators and aquatic life. As municipalities are restricting or banning these chemicals to promote healthier spaces, they need
to source alternatives to help deal with the weed issues the chemicals have
been increasingly relied on to address. Seattle is one municipality that is
implementing more glyphosate-free solutions on its public lands.

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF SEATTLE PARKS AND RECREATION

Seattle Goes
Glyphosate-Free

26

Parks & Recreation

In Seattle, RoundUp - which contains glyphosate - was previously
the most used herbicide by city gardeners and maintenance staff. In
2019, prompted by environmental
and public health concerns, Seattle
restricted the use of herbicides containing glyphosate on public land.
The city's Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program reclassified glyphosate as a Tier 1 product, meaning
that its use requires rigorous review
and approval from the city's IPM interdisciplinary team (IDT).
The restriction poses a significant
challenge to Seattle Parks and Recreation, which manages 6,414 acres
of parkland (11 percent of Seattle's
area). Its parkland is divided between
undeveloped areas (40 percent) and

Seattle Parks and Recreation staff tests
hot foam as an environmentally
friendly alternative to glyphosate for
weed control.

| A P R I L 2 02 0 | PA R K S A N D R E C R E AT I O N .O R G

developed parks (60 percent), and
RoundUp has been an important
tool in both. (It should be noted that
Seattle Parks and Recreation has
never used herbicides on lawn areas
or athletic fields, or near children's
play areas or water bodies.) While
different types of landscapes have
different public uses and receive different levels of maintenance, RoundUp previously provided a single goto method for weed control. Moving
forward, we are seeking effective
alternatives to herbicide use, and are
currently implementing three methods: (1) treat the weed, (2) pull it out
and (3) heat it up.

Treat the Weed
The IDT's list of herbicide options
includes products containing the
active ingredients imazapyr and triclopyr. These products, like glyphosate, are highly effective in controlling
the entire weed: once applied, they
translocate throughout the plant,
including the roots. We expect to
expand our use of imazapyr and triclopyr products. However, there are
lingering concerns in the community
and among staff about the use of any
non-organic chemical options. The
IDT continues to explore and evaluate other reduced-risk options for
direct treatment. For instance, plant
oils can be applied to control weeds.

Pull It Out
While weeds always can be removed manually, few municipalities
can provide enough gardening and
maintenance staff to manage weedy
landscapes with manual removal
alone. Another factor is how physi-



April 2020 - Parks & Recreation

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of April 2020 - Parks & Recreation

April 2020 - Parks & Recreation - 1
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