Evanston implements pesticide-free park program

Tori Latham, City Editor

A new program to keep Evanston parks pesticide-free will launch soon, the city announced Tuesday.

The city has chosen five local parks — Ackerman, Burnham Shores, Eiden, Perry and Trahan — that will be maintained without the use of pesticides for one year, the city said.

“Evanston strives to keep our parks a healthy place for all our residents and visitors to enjoy, and we are excited to launch this Pesticide-Free Parks Pilot Program, which is our largest Adopt-a-Park partnership to date,” Paul D’Agostino, the city’s assistant director of public works, said in a news release.

The program is being launched with the help of Greenwise Landscaping & Lawn Care Services, a local landscape company, and the Midwest Pesticide Action Center, a Chicago-based organization that promotes safer alternatives to pesticides, the city said.

“Midwest Pesticide Action Center applauds Evanston’s commitment to limit the use of pesticides in order to create healthy places to play,” Ruth Kerzee, Midwest Pesticide Action Center’s executive director, said in a statement. “People want pesticide-free parks where they can go with their children and pets and not worry about being exposed.”

Marc Wise, the founder of Greenwise, also said he was excited to be involved in the program.

“Greenwise loves this opportunity to give back to the community we call home and is thrilled to partner with the Evanston to promote organic land management,” Wise said in a statement. “This is a great way to tell the folks of Evanston to get out and enjoy your parks.

To avoid the use of pesticides, the city will use alternative weed control methods and improve soil health to increase natural weed resistance.

Martha Logan, the city’s community engagement manager, told The Daily the city has been working for more than five years to better Evanston’s park district.

“The city has really been considering public health and the environment when conducting park maintenance activities,” Logan said. “We are trying to reduce the usage of pesticides to create the most livable city in America.”

The program will mark the fifth anniversary of the city’s pesticide reduction policy, which was implemented to show Evanston’s commitment to protecting the health of its residents, the city said.

Along with the program, the city is also encouraging residents to take advantage of natural lawn care practices. The city recommended that community members water deeply no more than once a week, keep their lawns at least three inches high, use organic fertilizer and naturally dispose of weeds.

If the program is successful within its first year, the city said it could be extended and include more parks in the future.

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