Pesticide Ban may Prompt
by Craig Smith
A federal court ruling banning application of 38 pesticides on land within 20 yards of salmon streams is likely to be "expensive and challenging" for many golf courses, according to an industry leader.
Paul Backman, executive director of both the Western Washington Golf Course Superintendents Association and the Northwest Turfgrass Association, also called the ruling frustrating because of its origins.
Backman said the lawsuit that resulted in Thursday's ruling by U.S. District Judge John Coughenour was based primarily "on the failure of the EPA to consult with National Marine Fisheries."
"It was more of a bureaucratic lawsuit than a pesticide-in-the-water-harming-salmon lawsuit," he said.
Backman said the ruling "could lead to some very expensive remodels on some courses if portions of green or a tee are within the buffer zone and are attacked by pests."
Backman said the ruling is going to affect agriculture more than golf courses.
Steve Kealy, superintendent at Glendale Golf and Country Club in Bellevue, where Kelsey Creek and a tributary are on the property, said he was disappointed by the ruling but added, "It could have been worse."
Kealy said three greens and six tees at Glendale fall within the 20-yard buffer zone and said, "If we have an outbreak of European crane fly or some other insect, we won't be able to treat it (within the zone)."
Kealy said the creek water at Glendale has been tested for 20 months entering and leaving the property and he said, "None of these products we've applied are getting into the water."
Rich Taylor, superintendent at Sahalee Country Club, which doesn't have a stream on its grounds, called the ruling "another step" in the campaign to try to eliminate all pesticides.
"It's been a good tool for them to use the courts and the salmon issue," Taylor said of the environmental groups involved in the lawsuit.
Backman called golf-course superintendents "environmental stewards" and said the public needs reminding that "golf courses are good for the environment."
"Turfgrass prevents soil erosion, filters contaminants from rain and absorbs air pollution and dust," he said. "Just like trees, turfgrass produces the oxygen we breathe."
Andy Soden, director of golf for the City of Seattle, said a policy has been in effect since June on the city's three courses that only greens have been completely treated with pesticides. He said there has been some spot use of pesticides elsewhere on the courses "for severe infestation of insects or weeds."
Soden said Jackson Park Golf Course is the only city course with key areas affected by the ruling.
"We have to stop treating those areas within the buffer zone with any of those products that are on that list," he said. "You have two options - you either stop treating or come up with some alternatives." Soden said the alternative products he knows aren't as effective but added, "The bottom line is that the law is the law."
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