Tackling Pesticide Use, One Town at a Time

Posted on Oct 13, 2016

Eddie Woodin is a leader in getting communities to think about their lawn chemical use. Photo credit: Kevin Morris

Eddie Woodin is a leader
in getting communities
to think about their lawn
chemical use.
Photo credit: Kevin Morris

Eddie Woodin has a backyard that should be on Home & Garden TV. This bird lover has planted acres of bee-friendly flowers, nurtured trees, shrubs, and green spaces, and installed nesting boxes and bird baths all around his property. He has maintained this two-acre refuge without pesticides for 18 years.

One afternoon nearly 10 years ago, Eddie was sitting on a bench in his yard at dusk. He noticed that there were none of the brown bats that normally dive bombed clouds of mosquitoes in the evening. Then he realized there were no mosquitoes either.

Thus began a crusade. On September 21st, 2011, thanks to Eddie’s impetus, Scarborough passed its Pest Management Policy, which bans the use of synthetic lawn chemicals on town-owned land, including school grounds and athletic fields.

Now neighboring communities are taking his advocacy to the next level. On September 7th, South Portland passed an ordinance that phases in a pesticide ban on public property after one year, on private property after two years, and requires a comprehensive review of the ordinance in year three. Education will be emphasized over enforcement.

The Portland Pesticides Task Force is looking at South Portland’s ordinance as a possible model for its own ordinance. This group of twelve citizens includes our Executive Director Cathy Ramsdell.

Harpswell, where lobstering is a way of life, passed a pesticide ordinance on March 12th that bans neonicotinoids, chemicals blamed for bee die-offs, and insect growth regulators, used to kill browntail moths but also linked to harming lobsters. The ordinance bans using pesticides or fertilizers with 25 feet of the shoreline.