Norwalk, Connecticut Passes Ordinance Embracing Organic Land Management

(Beyond pesticidesJuly 6, 2022) Norwalk, Connecticut last week adopted a ambitious order (see page 121) banning toxic pesticides and implementing pesticide-free management in all public spaces in the city. The move, championed by Common Council Member Lisa Shanahan, with strong support from other city leaders, as well as public health and conservation organizations, follows the organic community ordinance of Stamford, CT, adopted last September. “It’s high time we connected people and conscientious legislators – linking municipal pesticide bans to the interests of animal advocates, gardeners and conservationists, so that the dangers and risks of using of pesticides inform residents and change public policies and practices,” said Priscilla Feral. , president of the Connecticut-based animal rights organization Friends of Animal and founder of Pesticide Free Rowayton, organizations that both worked to garner public support for the ordinance.

Prior to the passage of the ordinance, Norwalk land managers understood the need to move towards safer approaches to land care and responded to public demands to move in this direction. Pesticide Free Rowayton implemented a pesticide-free lawn care program at six public parks, and city staff began phasing out glyphosate use. “Three years now, we have stopped using Roundup on our property,” Superintendent of Parks and Public Property (Recreation and Parks) Ken Hughes told CT-based news site The Hour. “We’ve never mass treated for weeds or insects.”

The ordinance prohibits all pesticides on all City of Norwalk properties unless the use is for poison ivy or specified in a land management plan to be developed by the Director of Recreation and Parks and the city’s chief operating officer. The land management plan should take an organic systems approach to land care, including regular soil testing, use of only organic fertilizers, careful plant selection, physical and biological controls, consideration of pest biology and preventative practices that eliminate conditions conducive to pests.

If a situation arises where a city department wants to use a pesticide not specified in the land management plan, the ordinance establishes an interdepartmental pest management team to evaluate exemption requests. Allocations are only approved if there is an imminent threat to health, the environment or public safety, if reasonable attempts have been made to solve the problem without using the pesticide, if the pesticide will not have impact on water quality and whether there is evidence that the product in question has been proven effective against the pests or weeds present. If an exemption is granted, the application must include a pest management plan to prevent recurrence of the condition using organic land management practices.

Local public golf courses are exempt from pesticide restrictions if they agree to follow the Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States. Public golf courses and city course managers must provide monthly reports to Norwalk Common Council regarding pesticide use during the previous month.

Norwalk’s ordinance does not allow exemptions for invasive species and does not distinguish between organic or non-organic pesticides, referring all exemption requests to an interdepartmental pest management team. The team is made up of municipal employees and does not include any members of the public. However, through monthly reports to the Common Council, legislators and the public can closely monitor pesticide use to ensure that the spirit and intent of the ordinance is being adhered to and that exemptions do not result in not the regular use of toxic pesticides. .

With nearby Stamford, the Norwalk Ordinance is essential to safeguarding Connecticut’s unique coastal environment and protecting water quality throughout the region.

“It is in the interest of the city and its residents to protect the ecological integrity of Long Island Sound, the Norwalk River and Streams, and to improve and protect water quality throughout our region,” said board member Lisa Shanahan. says The Hour. “These deadly chemicals kill indiscriminately and make no distinction between pests and beneficial insects and healthy organisms.”

Those sentiments were echoed by other members of the Common Council, including member David Heuvelman, who called the ordinance “a big first step for the city…I personally think that’s one of the things the most important things we can do as a community, especially a community geographically located where we are. Water is important, we have to preserve it, we have to make sure that we manage our water supplies,” he said. -he declares.

To discuss the importance of adopting a strict municipal ordinance regarding pesticide use, Beyond Pesticides Director of Community Resources and Policy, Drew Toher, joined Sarah Evans, PhD, of the Ichan School of Medicine from Mt Sinai, and Richard Harris, from the CT-based conservation group Harbor Watch in a series of presentations to city leaders. According to the local Norwalk news site, Nancy on NorwalkCommon Council member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner said the “fairly comprehensive” presentations “changed my perspective on how our family handles pest control.”

While many supporters wanted the Council to go further and extend the pesticide ban to private property, the Common Council is barred from doing so due to the undemocratic provisions of Connecticut state law known as pre-emption of pesticides. However, as Norwalk shows, public land maintenance practices set an important example for city residents. The adoption of local policies on public lands shows a strong desire for communities to reclaim the power to regulate toxic chemicals wherever they can cause unnecessary harm.

Norwalk’s strong pesticide ordinance puts it in league with the nearly 200 other local policies registered on Beyond Pesticides’ Map of US Pesticide Reform Policies. If you are interested in joining communities like Norwalk and organizing your city, town or county towards a similar goal, contact Beyond Pesticides by emailing [email protected] for one-on-one assistance and strategies you can use to eliminate unnecessary pesticide use where you live.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this article are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Time, Nancy on Norwalk, Norwalk City Council records