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Montgomery Parks Begins Pesticide Reduction Program

by Abbigail Irelan on July 1st, 2016

Program includes Pesticide Alerts, Pesticide-Free Playgrounds, and Pilot Program for Pesticide-Free Parks

SILVER SPRING, MD – Montgomery Parks, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will introduce a pesticide-reduction program beginning July 1, 2016 in accordance with Bill 52-14, legislation passed by the Montgomery County Council regarding the use of pesticides on county-owned property, parks and private property.
In accordance with this legislation, Montgomery Parks is embracing new ways to manage their parks while still working to protect the health of trees, shrubs, and ornamental beds, wildlife, and the people who use our parks.
Beginning July 1, 2016, Montgomery Parks will:

  • Inform the public of pesticide applications via advanced notifications on the Montgomery Parks website Notifications will be placed on the website at least 48 hours in advance of pesticide applications.
  • Inform the public of pesticide applications via signage. Pre-application signage will be placed at the location of the application at least 48 hours in advance of the pesticide application. Post-application signage will be placed at the location of the application for at least 48 hours after the pesticide application.
  • Discontinue the use of pesticides on all playgrounds in Montgomery Parks.
  • Begin a pilot program to eliminate the use of pesticides in 11 of our local parks.
  • Develop and implement new pesticide usage protocols in our parks, with the goal of reducing pesticide usage (other than listed pesticides) where possible.

Pesticide-Free Parks Pilot Program

An important component of Montgomery Parks’ pesticide reduction program is a Pesticide-Free Parks Pilot Program, which will create 11 pesticide-free parks in the Montgomery Parks system. Citizens will gain access to pesticide-free parks while staff will gain valuable information about the impact and best practices associated with maintaining parks without pesticides. The following parks will be part of this pilot program:

It is important to note that Montgomery Parks will make every effort to make playgrounds and Pesticide-Free Pilot Parks completely pesticide free; however, Bill 52-14 includes provisions whereby pesticides may be applied in a playground, pesticide-free park, or elsewhere. Exemptions allowed under law permit pesticide application in these areas for the control of weeds, invasive species, pest control while engaged in agriculture, the maintenance of a golf course, to protect human health or to prevent significant economic damage. In the case of such a situation, the area may be closed for a brief period while the emergency is managed and re-opened as soon as possible afterwards. Notices will be posted via signage at the location for at least 48 hours after the application is made.

Athletic Fields
Montgomery Parks is also making plans to transition to pesticide-free athletic fields. Per the pesticide legislation, Montgomery Parks’ goal is to develop a plan for maintaining athletic fields with only listed pesticides by September 2019 and to transition to the maintenance of all playing fields with the use of listed pesticides only in the year 2020 (contingent on the results of the pilot study, 2019 Athletic Field Plan and available budget). Montgomery Parks’ plans to begin a pilot program at five athletic fields starting in 2017, while maintaining all other playing fields with an Integrated Pest Management Program.

As a result of Montgomery Parks’ efforts to reduce pesticide usage in parks, you may expect to see staff using techniques like hand pulling and mechanical pulling of weeds, additional string pulling, propane flame weeding, and the use of listed pesticides on the National Organic List and the Minimum Risk Ingredients List, which are approved per the legislation.

For more information on Montgomery Parks’ pesticide reduction program, up-to-date pesticide application alerts, frequently asked questions about the program and more, visit

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About The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission Montgomery Parks
Montgomery Parks manages more than 36,000 acres of parkland, consisting of 420 parks. Montgomery Parks is a department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), a bi-county agency established in 1927 to steward public land. The M-NCPPC has been nationally recognized for its high quality parks and recreation services and is regarded as a national model by other parks systems.

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