The Trouble with IPM

The term "IPM" (Integrated Pest Management), which most think is a step toward the phasing out of toxic chemicals, is heard with increasing frequency, as is the phrase "least toxic". This terminology has been adopted widely but investigation into actual methods of public pest control consistently reveals that the terminology has become mere greenwashing, and the same old pesticides and methods are being used as before these terms came into fashion.

In San Francisco, well-funded mainstream "pesticide reduction" groups worked for years to get an "IPM" program in place. Below is a report that gives an example of how the SF program plays out in reality -- some inadequate and easily-missed notices put up, and the same old toxics applied to public parks.

(The words "It's only Roundup" are heard ad nauseum, as if people have no idea that Roundup is the most frequent cause of pesticide poisoning in the state.)

From: "beneficialbug" <>
Subject: GG Park Pesticide Use
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 00:52:13 -0800

Dear All,

Bill and I were in Golden Gate Park today and rather than having a nice, relaxing day, enjoying the pleasant weather, we found ourselves in the middle of a recent spray area.

Bill just sent me notes from today.. I'm going to fill in a bit more detail. This is our living illustration of Pesticide Watch (PW), Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR), and Pesticide Action Network (PANNA)'s work and IPM as it tends to play out, as I have come to understand over many years.....remember that these groups started pushing for an IPM program in SF many years ago.... after some years, in '96 SF implemented an IPM policy. According to Bob Fiorello, "Rec and Park had been trying to do IPM since the 1980's, but we lacked the organization and impetus to really do it." (Advancing Alternatives: Successful least-toxic pest management programs in California's urban settings, 2000, report by CPR, PW and PANNA).

Now, 5+ years later, almost double what it takes a farmer to get certified as organic, Garlon 4 and Roundup Pro and other pesticides are used in SF parks and, probably, in buildings. After "trying to do" IPM since the 80's, in '95 Rec and Park was using over 60 different pesticides, including 26 linked with cancer, and 20 suspected of causing reproductive harm. So to hear that between '96 and '99 they reduced total pesticide use by 30%, I am not impressed, particularly because of all the money thrown in: $125,300 transferred from 7 city departments plus funding from the County Ag. Dept. via the EPA, private grants and special training costs being pulled out of existing budgets, and the hiring of a city-wide program coordinator for the program.

So Bill and I parked on Fulton St., near 4th Ave., on the Northside of the park. We walked South into the park on one of the many well-traveled trails leading from Fulton St. into the Rhododendron Dell. For those unfamiliar with the dell, it is immediately North of the bandshell and fountains which are between the DeYoung museum and the Academy of Sciences/ Steinhart Aquarium (basically between 4th and 8th Avenues).

We were happily heading down the path when I noticed acorn shell "hats." I stopped to pick one up and then thought, "Uh oh.. there's velvety bright green moss over otherwise dead-looking muddy ground. Looks like herbicides might have been used here." I dropped the "hat." Soon, we saw some signs posted. At this point we were in the middle of the dell. On a yard-long 1x2" wood stake were posted two 8-1/2x11" sheets of paper with the following info. The one for Garlon 4 had a light headline.... like the basic form used was from a terrible copy. So the headline was gray... did not jump out... and this was the one on top, the top of it being no higher than 3 feet off the ground. All the info for each was pre-printed except for the Where/Pests/When and contact person info which was handwritten in. Interesting to note that the 2 forms, the one for Garlon 4 and the one for Roundup had different phone numbers listed under SF IPM. Appeared to us that perhaps an old form used for Garlon 4. Totally unacceptable if one of those numbers is an outdated or incorrect number. And the signs were too few (detailed in a moment) and were not big enough or high enough off the ground, or, in general, obvious enough.

We saw another posting and hurried out of the dell on the Southside, unable to enjoy our planned stroll. So we went to the Strybing Arboretum where there was one 8-1/2x11 sheet on the right side of the entrance, white paper taped onto a whitish stone pillar. The entrance is about 10 feet wide.

Roundup Pro had been sprayed there the same day, 3/15. There was a permanent posting on the bulletin board immediately within the entrance listing all the various baits used within Strybing Arboretum and on that sheet it said they do not post notices separately when they are using baits, that this notice serves as a permanent notice for the baits, and that any other pesticides used have separate postings done 4 days before applications and the postings remain for 4 days after. I hope they actually start the counting the day after applications but my guess is that they include the day of in the "4 days after." Such a cynic!

So I asked a docent nearby whether they, as docents, are given information about the dangers of pesticides used there. She said, "It's only Roundup that was just used." Like a canned speech, she said that they have reduced the use of pesticides there and have an IPM program in place.

Going back to the car I wanted to go through the dell to check for postings, figuring I'd already been exposed plenty before we'd ever come upon the first sign. On the south side of the dell I only noticed one of these postings, right at the entrance to the main path. So we went a different way and checked around different path intersections... practically no postings. At the main entrance on Fulton St. (closer to 8th Ave.) there were these same postings on each side of the maybe 18-foot wide entrance. They were sort of jammed into the shrubbery, easy to miss, especially for people walking in the middle of the entrance way. Walking back down Fulton toward 4th Ave. we saw no postings at all though there are many pathways along Fulton St. leading into the dell.

THE POSTINGS (seen 3/18):

SF Ordinance 274-97

Rhododendron dell
Approaching the the rhodendron dell from the East, we did not hit signs till we were among the rhododendrons.

(form looks older, grayer, harder to read from distance, only date, location, and sf contact person/# written in)
What: Garlon 4 (triclopyr) EPA# 62719-40
Where: Rhododendron Dell beds 3,4,5
Pests targeted: undesirable weeds, brush
When: March 15 7-10 am
Word: Caution
Reentry: Will be safe to re-enter once sprays have dried.
Contact: Kevin Shea 666-7002
SF IPM 415-753-7249

(form looks newer, only date, location, and sf contact person/# written in)
What: Roundup Pro (glyphosate) EPA# 524-475
Where: Rhododendron Dell beds 3,4,5
Pests targeted: undesirable weeds, brush
When: March 15 7-10 am
Word: Caution
Reentry: Will be safe to re-enter once sprays have dried.
Contact: Kevin Shea 666-7002
SF IPM 415-831-2749

On all forms seen, checkboxes, Applied, Postponed not ticked

At a meeting of five paths, no posting.

Strybing Arboretum
North Entrance

What: Roundup Pro (glyphosate)
EPA# 524-475
Where: Weeds growing in and around pathways throughout Strybing arboretum
Pests targeted: grass and weeds
When: March 15 early am
Word: Caution
Reentry: Will be safe to re-enter once sprays have dried.
Contact: S. Nervo 753-7092
SF IPM 415-753-7249
One 8 X 11 on west post.. No 8 x 11 on east post. About 10 ft between.

Strybing Arboretum:

Pesticide Baits in use

PT 240 boric acid roaches I
Avert PT 310 Abamectin roaches I
Avert PT 320 Abamectin roaches I
Avert Stations Abamectin roaches I
Contrac Blox Bromedialone mice rates/ O
Dual Choice Ant Stations Sulfonamide ants I
Deadline (Pace) Metaldehyde Metaldehyde snails/slugs I/O
Drax Ant Kill Gel Boric Acid ants I
Durham 7.5 Metaldehyde snails/slugs I/O
Eatons 56-42 Diphacinone mice/rats I/O
Eatons 56-20 Diphacinone rats O
Eaton's answer- gophers Diphacinone gophers O
Fluorguard Ant Station Sulfonamide ants I
Max force Ant Bait Hydramethylnon ants I/0
Max Force Roach Bait Hydramethylnon roaches I
Niban Granular Bait Orthoboric Acid roaches I/O
Siege Gel Hydramethylnon roaches I/O
Surefire D-E Plus Diotamaceous Earth insects I/O
Talon G-Western Black Bromadifocum mice/rats I/O
Talon G-Mice Pellets Bromadifocum mice/rats I/O
Terro Ant Killer Boric Acid ants I/O
Wilco Gopher Killer 2 Chrlorophacine gophers

Garlon 4 is one of the herbicides Marc Lappe has targeted for years...... I'll see about getting a statement or letter to SF Parks and Rec., etc. from him.

And get this.... in the Strybing Arboretum Calendar for Jan-Mar :

Under Gardening Classes:

-Advancing Alternatives: Creative Solutions for Bay Area Pest Problems (562) 2-session workshop

This New Year, resolve to manage garden pests using the least-toxic approaches available. Developed with the advanced gardener in mind, this class goes beyond introductory integrated pest management (IPM) theory and hones in on detailed, practical techniques to combat some of the Bay Area's toughest pests and weeds. A garden walk featuring innovative pest management strategies employed at Strybing is included. 7 Continuing Education Credits for licensed applicators and PCA's pending DPR approval. (for professional and home gardeners) by Bob Fiorello, IPM certified, Strybing Staff Gardener.

If Bob thinks using Roundup for weeds on the walkways and a list of how many baits was that? is innovative, we can do quite well without SF's innovation, thank you very much. Another key person at Strybing is Scot Medbury, though I am forgetting his actual title.

Strybing Arboretum Society GG Park 415-661-1316 9th Ave. at Lincoln Way, SF 94122

Max Ventura

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