County of Marin - News Releases - IPM Achievement Award

For Immediate Release
April 27, 2018

‘Broom Service’ Are Pest Management Champions

Group of retirees earns County award for eradication of invasive plants

San Rafael, CA – An enthusiastic group of volunteer weed pullers in the San Geronimo Valley is being recognized by the Marin County Board of Supervisors and the Integrated Pest Management Commission because of its dedication to responsible pest management.

Members of Broom Service pose during a meeting at the Civic Center.Members of Broom Service accepted the award with Supervisor Dennis Rodoni (left) at the April 27 IPM Commission meeting.
A group called Broom Service, tireless eradicators of invasive french and scotch broom, was honored with the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Achievement Award during the April 27 meeting of the IPM Commission. The group members will be presented with a commendation from the Board of Supervisors.

Members of Broom Service meet weekly to pull broom in the 1,500-acre  Gary Giacomini Open Space Preserve and other valley locations. Woodacre residents Mel Wright and Phil Sotter have led the five-year-old group, comprised mostly of retirees looking for a fun combination of exercise, socialization, and public service.

With the award, the IPM Commission recognizes individuals and organizations that demonstrate innovation, knowledge, skill, leadership, inspiration, and courage in pursuing new systems of pest management that result in reduction in pesticide use within Marin County. Up to two individuals or organizations per year receive the award. Past recipients are Ann Spake (Sustainable TamAlmonte), and Pablo Rosales (McInnis Golf Course).

The County’s IPM program uses best practices and science to protect the health of the public and the environment, to help manage County-maintained sites, minimize loss due to pests, and reduce pesticide use. Of the 147 parks and County facilities maintained under the County’s IPM Ordinance (ranging from traffic medians to roads to regional parks and pathways to the Marin County Civic Center), 126 were managed without the use of pesticides in 2017. Parks’ conventional pesticide use declined by 86 percent in 2017 over the previous year while organic pesticide use increased 164 percent. The long-term strategy is to favor manual methods supplemented with organic treatments while minimizing the need for synthetic chemical applications.

Each year volunteers from the Marin community donate thousands of hours of labor to physically remove invasive vegetation such as french broom, scotch broom, thistles, fennel, and non-native plants from County properties. In 2017, staff, contractors, and volunteers spent 43,033 hours conducting IPM, equal to the work of 20 full-time employees. Together they spread more than 300 cubic yards of mulch and installed hundreds of square feet of cardboard sheet mulching in an effort to offset synthetic herbicide use. The volunteers accounted for 9,439 of those labor hours.

Anyone interested in joining or forming a volunteer group should contact Kirk Schroeder at or 415-473-3778. More volunteering opportunities may be found on Parks’ volunteering webpage.


James Chayka
Marin County Parks

Marin Civic Center
Suite 260
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 473-3639
Email: James Chayka