In March 2014, the ERC joined forces with the Pesticide Action Network of Blaine County (PAN BC), the local citizens coalition advocating for changes to weed control policies to protect kids and the community.
In the three years prior to merging with the ERC, PAN BC made some great strides in reducing chemical use in the community. In 2011, PAN BC worked with the City of Ketchum and local citizens to pass Idaho’s first municipal Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy, which focuses on using methods such as mechanical control, biological controls, prevention strategies and other non-chemical methods to control weeds and other pests, with the use of toxic chemicals as a last resort.
In 2013, as the result of an appeal from PAN BC, the Blaine County School District adopted an IPM policy which eliminates pesticide use on playing fields and open spaces near schools. Implementation of this policy began in 2014 with the employment of high school students to hand-pull weeds, using clove oil to kill dandelions in areas where pre-schoolers play and keeping the grass longer to keep weeds from establishing.
In 2013, PAN BC also worked with the Sawtooth National Recreation Area (SNRA) on a bio-control project using insects to control knapweed. The successful implementation of this effort has led to a collaboration between the Bureau of Land Management, SNRA, ERC and the Blaine County Weed Management Office to build an insectary to cultivate knapweed root-eating weevils. Once fully operating, the insectary will serve as a resource for our community to employ the weevils on their private property at no cost.
For three years, the coalition partnered with the Blaine County Recreation District to bring a herd of goats to the Wood River Trail to control noxious weeds without the use of chemicals. The goats will be followed by intensive seeding of native plants and placement of root-eating weevils in subsequent years.
Weed management is an ongoing issue in the Wood River valley and as new alternative methods are introduced, the ERC will be researching best practices and helping our community understand the importance of managing weeds without the use of pesticides and herbicides.
The Weed and Pest Guide for the Wood River Valley is a comprehensive resource for alternative weed management for everyone from the backyard gardener to the professional landscaper.