Park Board considers total ban on glyphosate

The Park Board’s Operations & Environment Committee unanimously voted to extend the board’s ban on glyphosate to the entire Minneapolis park system.

The resolution would expand a ban on the herbicide to the city’s regional parks and golf courses. The Park Board ended the use of glyphosate in neighborhood parks in 2016.

Commissioners on the committee voted 4–0 on Oct. 4 to pass the moratorium.

“Eliminating toxins in our parks is something I heard about a lot on the campaign trail. People want to see this change, and I’m proud to help make it happen,” said At-Large Commissioner Londel French, the committee’s chair.

The moratorium, which would begin Jan. 1, follows a years-long trend of the Park Board reducing its use of glyphosate, a widely used chemical known commercially as Roundup. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified the chemical as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

“Numerous studies have indicated that glyphosate is a health risk to both humans and pollinators, so I believe it is time for us to move to organic methods of pest control,” said District 1 Commissioner Chris Meyer, who co-authored the resolution.

Glyphosate is rarely used in Minneapolis parks. Assistant Superintendent of Environmental Stewardship Jeremy Barrick estimated the board purchased just 10 gallons of the herbicide this year.

The Park Board primarily uses glyphosate-based herbicides in its golf courses and in regional parks to control invasive species like buckthorn and garlic mustard. Staff have applied glyphosate in Loring Park in their fight against cattails in the park’s pond.

The move will push park staff to use organic alternatives, something Barrick said the board has only experimented with in the past. Barrick said these alternatives may be more expensive and require more staff time to apply, but he told commissioners it’s unclear exactly how much more they will cost.

The resolution includes the formation of an advisory committee featuring six members nominated by President Brad Bourn (District 6) and three commissioners nominated by Barrick to advise the Park Board’s transition to a pesticide-free park system.

The committee is expected to present a report to the board by the end of February 2019 on recommended practices and potential changes to the board’s Integrated Pest Management Plan. Under the state’s noxious weed law, the board must control or eradicate certain plant species.

Barrick said after years of declining dependence on glyphosate that he isn’t concerned the board will be able to find viable alternatives.

“We see this as a giant leap in that progression, but one that I’m confident that our staff can do,” he said.