"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."
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 Maine Board of Pesticides Control - May 2008 Minimize

Did You Know?

No Spray Agreements are available for landowners abutting roadways, railroads and utilities. Parties who participate agree to remove brush adjacent to their properties in lieu of herbicide treatments. To request a No-Spray Agreement, call Maine DOT at 207-624-3000.

In the Maine DOT Roadside Brush Control Program, powered spraying is prohibited in the following areas: within 100 feet of wells and springs; 150 feet of parked vehicles; 100 feet of animal pastures; 150 feet of occupied buildings, homes or playgrounds; 100 feet of organic farms, pedestrians, bicyclists or picnic tables; or within areas defined by Maine DOT No-Spray Agreements.

To report violations of these buffers, call the BPC at 207-287-2731 (24-hr answering service).

MDOT to Use Herbicides along Roads

At its May 2008 meeting, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) granted a variance to the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) from the 25-foot setback otherwise required from waterways when broadcasting herbicides along guardrails. According BPC Director Henry Jennings, the MDOT has been using mechanical methods (mowing) to manage guardrails at least since 1994 but wants to return to using herbicides due to high fuel prices for mowing weeds.

In a somewhat related matter, several representatives of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were present do discuss whether a 25-foot setback for broadcast applications of pesticides near waterways is sufficient. The DEP had investigated a complaint about pesticides to lawns at condominiums near the ocean in Lincolnville and found that pesticides had been applied in areas directly adjacent to culverts, storm drains and other drainage areas. The application conformed with the BPC outdoor pesticide application rule requiring a 25-foot setback to surface water, but conflicted with the DEP rule requiring no direct discharge to waterways. The DEP wants to work with the BPC to educate pesticide applicators about DEP rules; and would like the BPC to strengthen the outdoor application rule to protect drainage ways.

Montville’s GMO Ban Questioned

Since the town of Montville passed an ordinance this spring banning the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), both the Maine Department of Agriculture and the BPC have questioned the legality of the ordinance. The BPC requires that a town notify it of a pesticide-related ordinance before voting on the ordinance so that the BPC can catalog municipal ordinances and have them available in a central location. According to BPC Director Henry Jennings, the town can come into compliance simply by sending the BPC a copy of the ordinance and then adopting it again. (Seed products that have pesticidal products of Bacillus thuringiensis incorporated into them are the only GMOs that contain a pesticide, so they are the only GMOs under BPC control and are the only GMOs for which the BPC requires notification of an ordinance.)

Continued Development of Aerial Spray Drift Rules

The BPC continues to develop new requirements for aerial applications of pesticides. Concepts developed to date are: a definition for “Sensitive Area Likely to be Occupied” (SALO), which would carry more stringent requirements than other sensitive areas; notification requirements that would include an annual notice to all landowners within 1000 feet of a target spray area, allowing them to request notification before each application; more detailed mapping and site identification to ensure that aerial applicators spray the correct site; and adoption of a Standard of Harm, whereby a complaint about drift becomes a violation when evidence shows that the drift residue caused harm.

In its coming meetings, the BPC will work through more topics, including standards of practice, recordkeeping and best management practices. Once all topics have been addressed, the BPC will draft a rule.


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