The East Bay Regional Park District Board of Directors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to immediately ban using the herbicide, glyphosate, in picnic areas, and to fully eliminate its use in all developed park areas by the end of 2020.
The Park District currently uses the highly effective glyphosate for fire prevention and vegetation maintenance around park structures, fences, walkways, parking areas and in public right-of-way areas such as roads, bike paths and trails. It is not currently used near play areas or water fountains.
“The Park District plans to phase out glyphosate use in developed park areas by the end of 2020, including parking lots, campgrounds, lawns, and paved trails,” said East Bay Regional Park District General Manager Robert Doyle.
The Park District joins other jurisdictions, including the city of Richmond, in phasing out the controversial chemical that has been the topic of a heated national debate over whether it increases cancer risk, as some studies have concluded.
Richmond has struggled in keeping up with weed abatement since the ban, as the chemical is highly effective in abating overgrowth. The Park District also conceded it “will take substantial financial resources” and will “significantly impact the Park District’s general fund and staffing levels,” to phase out glyphosate.
Since 2016, the Park District has been able to reduce the chemical’s use by 66-percent for park maintenance by using early intervention strategies and organic products when possible, the district said.
Park District staff have been tasked with returning to a future board meeting with an assessment of staff and fiscal needs moving forward.
“We are proud to be a leader in parkland management,” East Bay Regional Park District President Ayn Wieskamp said, adding, “Managing the complex spectrum of land that the Park District does, with requisite state and federal requirements, is not easy or inexpensive.”