Eugene-based Beyond Toxics wants the city’s public parks and public lands to go pesticide free, but the group says it’s still having trouble finding out just what toxins are being sprayed in the city and what public money is being spent on them. A public records request to the city of Eugene for the information was met with a fee estimate of more than $7,000.
Lisa Arkin, Beyond Toxics’ executive director, says she’d like to have information in time to bring it before the city for a work session on integrated pest management (IPM) scheduled for March 13, but the group can’t afford the bill to get it. Arkin says Councilor George Brown called for the work session in response to a request to take a “good, hard look” at the city’s pesticide use.
IPM uses common-sense practices and information on the lifecycles of pests and their interaction with the environment to manage pests “by the most economical means, and with the least possible hazard to people, property and the environment,” according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It uses limited pesticides and only as a last resort, and requires recordkeeping of pests reported, what is done and what pesticides are used.
The letter from the city explaining the $7,000 fee says that the City Recorder’s Office determined Beyond Toxics’ request is not in the public’s interest in that the requested records do not primarily benefit the general public.
Arkin says, “The city claims it has an IPM policy, but if that were the case the records would be available — if they have a bona fide policy.” And she criticizes the city’s claim that the records request is not in the public interest. “An organization such as Beyond Toxics works only to educate the public,” she says.
Waldport has a last-resort herbicide use on its city land, and Newport has herbicide free zones in city parks. Eugene has seven pesticide-free neighborhood parks including Scobert Gardens and Awbrey Park.
Beyond Toxics has a Safe Public Places Project, calling for a “pesticides as a last option” policy to manage pests on Oregon’s public land and will be rallying from 9 am to noon March 8 in Salem. Go to http://wkly.ws/1fl for more information.