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Letters: Herbicide use in SF parks

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(Courtesy photo)

“Why spray any toxic herbicides in City parks? ” Sally Stephens, July 30, 2018

Sally Stephens misrepresents San Francisco’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program. Publicly available data provided by City agencies to the Department of Environment tells a different story.

Since 2010, San Francisco has reduced its use of higher hazard herbicides (including Roundup) by 95 percent. In the case of the Recreation & Parks Department, use of these herbicides has declined by 97 percent since 2010 and by 84 percent from 2015 to 2016 alone.

This progress was made possible by San Francisco’s decision in 1996 to move away from a “just-spray-more-herbicides approach” to a transparent, highly regulated, science-based approach to managing pests, rodents, and weeds. In practice, what this means is simple: pesticides are used judiciously and only as a last resort. All of this underscores what a tiny role pesticides play in The City’s pest and weed management efforts. City departments devote extensive resources to volunteer weeding programs (90,000 volunteer hours in 2017 for Rec and Park), designing new and remodeled buildings to keep pests out in the first place, developing national-level guidelines on pest prevention, pilot testing wildlife-safe methods of rodent control, and training hundreds of City staff and affordable housing managers each year in state-of-the-art, safer pest management approaches.

There are very few — if any cities — that have accomplished as much as San Francisco in protecting our residents and our environment. Many public agencies nationwide, including Boulder, Colorado, Montgomery County, Maryland, and Seattle, Washington, now have IPM programs modelled after ours.

We are proud of the work we do.

Chris Geiger
Integrated Pest Management Senior Coordinator
San Francisco Department of Environment

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