Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Talk about a hot foot

Some of the methods that Mark Hecker used to kill weeds at the pesticide-free park in Lawrence, KS, have included a machine known as a Flamer that burns weeds in the cracks of sidewalks and a horticultural vinegar. The Flamer discolored the concrete, which stayed hot for another 15 or so minutes. The vinegar killed the tops of the weeds, but they returned in a couple of weeks, he said.

Hecker, the parks and recreation superintendent there, says you don't need pesticides to maintain a nice, green city park — not if you can muster a lot of old-fashioned elbow grease. Hecker's department has been maintaining one of the city's nicer parks without pesticides thanks to a lot of hand-weeding by employees and park volunteers.

It's not likely the program will expand much unless a lot more volunteers step forward, though.

"With just doing the one park, it hasn't been that difficult to juggle our staff around and get done what we need to do," he was quoted in the local newspaper. "But it would be a much bigger concern if you did it systemwide."

In this case that would mean 52 city parks, requiring perhaps hiring four additional crews of three people each. The crews would also need trucks and equipment. And, of course, there's the matter of weed control in 200 landscaped flower beds located in parks throughout the city.

At least from this corner it would seem that the parks budget AND the environment come out losers if the city implimented a pesticide-free approach in all of its parks. In other words — more workers, more trucks, more energy used, more vehicle emissions, etc.

Click on the headline or visit for the article in the Lawrence Journal-World at http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/jun/18/pesticidefree_park_difficult_doable/?city_local. — Ron Hall

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