For Immediate ReleaseApril 27, 2018
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 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 email@example.com or 415-473-3778. More volunteering opportunities may be found on Parks’ volunteering webpage.
James ChaykaSuperintendentMarin County Parks
Marin Civic CenterSuite 260San Rafael, CA 94903(415) 473-3639Email: James Chaykawww.marincountyparks.org