Sonoma County Conservation Action is working to eliminate synthetic pesticides and promote regenerative land management throughout Sonoma County. Join us!
(1) Sonoma Safe Ag Safe Schools
(2) Sonoma County’s Local Coastal Plan
We are working to use our Sonoma County Local Coastal Plan (LCP) as a vehicle to better protect wildlife and natural resources along our coastline. Los Angeles County and more recently, the City of Malibu, have successfully used LCPs to ban all pesticides on both public and private lands in sensitive areas of the coastal zone. It would be particularly meaningful to stop the use of anti-coagulant rodenticides in Sonoma County coastal areas as they are having large negative impacts on our raptors and other wild carnivores.
9/24/19 Rohnert Park Council votes to discontinue the use of glyphosate and to maintain an Anticipated Pesticide Application Calendar.
8/13/19 Cotati City Council votes to ban glyphosate and to prepare a plan to ban all synthetic pesticides on city property.
9/5/18 Town of Windsor bans all synthetic pesticides
1/8/18 Santa Rosa City Schools ban synthetic herbicides
Want to get synthetic pesticides out of your favorite public space? Check out our Toxic Free Future Toolkit
Why do we need a Toxic Free Future?
Sonoma County leads the way in providing community members a healthy quality of life, thriving watersheds and world class recreation.
However, we still rely on toxic synthetic pesticides for weed management in our public spaces, recreation areas & school grounds.
All synthetic weed killing products are harmful to human health and the environment (2).
Strong measures to reduce pesticide exposure are already in place in Marin and Mendocino. It’s time for us to show our leadership by finding more innovative, safer, and proactive options.
How are we going to protect our kids, workers and the environment?
- Require that all government agencies and schools follow regulations for safe pesticide use including the Healthy Schools Act (11) and Sonoma County’s NPDES Permit for stormwater discharges (pages 46-47).
- Ensure that all government agencies have Integrated Pest Management Plans (IPM) that require using least toxic methods first with a goal of “getting to zero” synthetic pesticide use. Require IPM training for maintenance staff and contractors.
- Require transparent, multi-channel notifications to residents for all pesticide applications.
- Develop IPM Citizen Advisory Councils or Commissions to oversee public pesticide use trends, review annual reports, and maintain a centralized reporting structure for easy access to all pesticide use data on public lands. IPM oversight groups would be comprised of community members, advocacy organizations, IPM experts, and agency officials.
- Require that new landscape designs prioritize natural weed management principles and encourage re-landscaping weed prone areas for easy, pesticide-free maintenance.
- Make sure that our County Agricultural Commissioner’s office is proactively identifying violations to school buffer zone rules and other regulations on pesticide use.
The myth that a synthetic herbicide could be developed to be safe was put to rest when glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUpTM, was determined to be a probable human carcinogen.
Public awareness of the harmful effects of synthetic pesticides is at an all time high, as well as the recognition that pesticide resistance can lead to reliance on ever stronger pesticides.
Dozens of public agencies across California have successful non-toxic landscape programs that could be recreated in Sonoma County.
What are toxic-free alternatives?
A variety of successful methods exist for maintaining public (and private) landscapes without toxic chemicals.
Though still designed to kill, organic pesticides are created from substances that are generally recognized as safe. Organic weed killers are often based on acids or essential oils and accidental exposure can be harmful to the eyes and skin. They are not, however, associated with the long-term chronic effects we associate with synthetic herbicides.
Plain white vinegar can also be used successfully to kill weeds, especially when applied on hot days. An example of a tried and tested recipe for a natural weed killer is provided below: 1 gallon industrial strength vinegar (30% )*1 oz dish soap1/2 to 1 oz orange oil (optional) Mix ingredients together and apply to weeds using a spray bottle. *Industrial strength vinegar can be purchased online. Regular vinegar will work too, but the resulting mixture will be slightly less effective.
Applying a thick layer of mulch or wood chips is an easy and effective way of suppressing weed growth. Mulching also improves soil health, which in turn makes desirable plants stronger and more effective at outperforming and decreasing weed growth.
Proper mowing techniques can be employed to keep turf in lawns and sports fields healthy and weed resistant.
In wild lands and open spaces, properly timed mowing is an effective nontoxic weed control method to decrease fire danger and increase visibility.Tarps and plastic sheeting
Tarps or plastic sheeting can be used to cover areas with weeds to kill the plants and suppress new weeds from germinating. A black tarp applied on a hot day is very effective at killing everything underneath.
Irrigation system improvements
Too much water or too liter water can lead to the growth of unwanted plants. Targeting appropriate irrigation to desirables and cutting irrigation in open, weed prone areas will keep weeds from growing.
Many common city features such as road median strips and open wood chipped landscapes seem almost to have been designed with annual herbicide use in mind. Weeds that grow in median stripes are difficult and often dangerous to remove manually. Bare wood chipped areas will eventually fill in with weeds if the area is not frequently mulched or if desirable plants do not fill in the empty spaces. Requiring new landscapes to be designed with easy, nontoxic maintenance in mind, and re-landscaping existing problem areas can help decrease the need for expensive maintenance and toxic chemicals.
Volunteers and community action days
Many open space districts, schools, and municipalities rely on volunteers to help eradicate invasive species and maintain weed-free campuses. Volunteer days are fun ways to strengthen community ties and develop a sense of pride in our public lands.
Compost tea & turf aeration
Compost tea and other nutritive land maintenance products can be instrumental in growing soil health to keep undesirable plants from growing in lawns and sports fields.
Projects to address specific weed issues can be jointly performed through partnerships with groups and nonprofits with experience in targeted invasive species management. LandPaths, for example, employs “slow restoration” techniques that target invasive species such as star thistle using appropriately timed and consistent annual maintenance. Slow restoration may take longer than conventional methods using synthetic herbicides, but the end results are often the same without the toxic inputs.
Toxic Free Futures Endorsed By:
- Sonoma County Conservation Action
- Californians for Pesticide Reform
- Sonoma County Safe Ag Safe Schools (SASS)
- Santa Rosa Democratic Club
- Sonoma Valley Democratic Club
- Oakmont Democrats
- South County Democrats
- Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
- Daily Acts
- North Bay Jobs with Justice
- Sierra Club, Sonoma Group
- 350 Bay Area
- 350 Sonoma
- Singing Frog Farm
- Wine and Water Watch
- Preserve Rural Sonoma County
- Better Beginnings for Babies
- FACTS: Families Advocating for Chemical and Toxic Safety
- North Bay Organizing Project
- Graton Against Synthetic Pesticides (GASP)
- Non Toxic Neighborhoods
- Californians for Pesticide Reform
- Pesticide Action Network