By a unanimous vote last week, the Duluth City Council resolved to stop using neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics) on city property and instructed staff members to do their best to steer clear of plants that have been treated with the insecticide.
However, councilors offered one exception — authorizing the use of neonicotinoids to protect high-value ash trees from the spreading threat of emerald ash borers. Many communities, particularly those located in the east and midwest are seeing their population of ash trees decimated by this species of beetle, and one of the most effective ways to treat and protect ash trees is with the use of neonics. Without the use of pesticides thousands of healthy trees are often sacrificed in order to try to curtail the spread of emerald ash borer infestation.
Other species of beetles and invasive insects offer a similar threat to many tree species. However, with increasing frequency, the effectiveness of neonics as a method to protect trees from invasive insect infestation is ignored when activists push for pesticide bans in our nations communities.
As landscape professionals who are familiar with the proper and safe use of neonics, it is important to make sure that you help to make communities aware of all of the potential consequences of banning pesticides. Too often, well-meaning city officials can be swayed be the emotional rhetoric and one sided story presented by just a handful of residents and outside activists. In order for communities to make informed decisions it is important to have all of the facts at hand and right now that is often not the case.
To even out the playing field, we need NALP members to act as a voice for our profession by attending local hearings and providing the other side of the story. If your community is facing ordinances that would impact your bottom line, or you are interested in being an advocate for landscape professionals, we want to hear from you. Please contact Paul Mendelsohn, NALP Vice President of Government Relations to find out how you can help to advance the interests of landscape professionals at the local and state level.