Integrated Pest Management FAQ
- What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a term used to describe a Pest Management program that uses all the available tools in a coordinated, scientifically-based and safe manner to control pests and meet health and safety and ecological goals.
- ♦ Mechanical treatments such as mowing or hand pulling weeds
- ♦ Cultural controls such as grazing or burning unwanted vegetation
- ♦ Biological controls such as using insects to attack weeds
- ♦ Chemicals controls when the pest problem cannot be remedied by other methods.
- Why is IPM needed?
Pests are any organism that is injurious to recreational activities, public health or the functioning of our ecological systems. In 120,000 acres over 73 parks, we manage, pests that our IPM program addresses includes ticks, rats, harmful algal blooms, and invasive plants.
Most of the Park District’s management activities focus on removing nuisance weeds that limit public access and decrease biological diversity. Controlling noxious weeds helps ensure diverse plant communities and helps sustains habitat that supports wildlife including threatened and endangered species. Controlling excess vegetation is also important for fire prevention and healthy forests.
- What guides the Park District’s IPM program?
An environmental ethic guides the Park District in all its activities. As a first step, the Park District believes that prevention is the secret to safe and effective pest management.
The Park District also relies on these principles when implementing its program:
- ♦ Scientific standards
- ♦ Weight of evidence
- ♦ Best practices.
- What is the Goal of the Park District’s IPM Program?
The Park District’s goal is to manage pests in the most effective and safest manner for our park visitors, employees and natural resources. This means solving pest problems to optimize public access, recreational safety, and protect our ecological systems.
- How does the IPM program benefit public safety and the health of the environment?
The Park District’s IPM program utilizes the most sustainable method to protect the safety of our visitors and enhance parklands’ natural resources. The program focuses on those pests that threaten public safety and the health of our natural resources. For example, invasive plants such as eucalyptus and other weeds when unmanaged can threaten public health by contributing to a catastrophic wildfire. Rats and ticks can carry viruses and diseases that threaten public health. If not controlled, invasive, non-native plant species such as star thistle can create a mono-culture on the landscape. These species then displace the native plant populations; causing a loss of food and habitat for other species.
- Who administers the IPM program for the Park District?
The Park District’s Stewardship Department includes a licensed pest management specialist and an Integrated Pest Management Unit. This unit trains and supervises staff District-wide to ensure that the most comprehensive approach to pest management is utilized. Multiple methods are often employed and new technologies are examined regularly.
Factors that influence treatment strategies include:
- ♦ The level of public health and environmental risk
- ♦ Severity of the problem
- ♦ Timing for optimal control
- ♦ Effectiveness of available methods
- ♦ Available resources.
- What methods does the Park District use to control pests?
The Park District relies on best practices and scientific standards to manage pests and emphasizes mechanical and cultural controls. The overwhelming majority of the Park District’s management activities are mechanical and include measures such as mowing, trimming and hand-pulling. The Park District also relies heavily on cultural methods such as grazing, burning and planting of native species where feasible to help reduce pests’ ability to thrive. The Park District uses chemical controls (both synthetic chemicals and organic chemicals) in locations where cultural and mechanical methods are not feasible or not effective.
- Why does the Park District use chemical controls, such as pesticides, in our parks?
The Park District’s IPM program works to target pests that threaten healthy forests, public health and safety, and ecological functions. There are many invasive pests that cannot be managed with standard tools such as hand trimming and/or grazing. A few examples of pest problems where chemical controls are used include:
- ♦ Poison Oak: Because of public safety concerns, poison oak is not manageable through hand trimming. So, the Park District may use chemicals to control poison oak in key areas.
- ♦ French Broom: French broom has become a widespread recreational and ecological nuisance that provides a fuel ladder in the event of fire that threatens the persistence of our oak/bay woodlands.
- ♦ Yellow star thistle: is a state listed noxious weed that if left unmanaged grows into a dense monoculture. Not only does this hinder recreational use of trails but it excludes native wildflowers and grasses that provide essential ecosystem services. Recent studies suggest that this invasive uses millions of acre feet of water each year,
Chemical herbicides are prohibited in play areas or near drinking fountains.
- Has the Park District’s IPM program been successful?
Yes, the Park District’s efforts have made an important difference in protecting public safety, providing healthy forests and improving the ecological functions of our park.
- ♦ Protecting Public Health: The Park District’s IPM program is a leader in the nation on identifying and providing treatment for cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae). The Park District is piloting two efforts, one in Lake Anza and one in Lake Temescal, and anticipate a dramatic decrease in cyanobacteria blooms by summer 2019.
- ♦ Providing Healthy Forests: Park District has implemented a program that helps reduce risk of catastrophic fire in the wildland and urban interface and helped improve habitat diversity.
- ♦ Improving Ecological Function: District-wide, park staff are implementing habitat enhancement projects including control of invasive including perennial pepper weed, yellow star thistle, puncture vine, tree of heaven, stinkwort, medusa head, barbed goat grass and other pests. Controlling these non-native exotics protects habitat, forage, groundwater availability in the Park. The Park District’s IPM program has successfully eliminated 96% of the invasive artichoke thistle plant which had created a mono-culture in Wildcat Canyon Park. This effort has stemmed the spread of the thistle to nearby areas and supported biodiversity in our parklands by improving the ecology of the surrounding area. Due to this restoration effort, the site can once again support native grasses and the endangered Santa Cruz Tar Plant.
- More information on this effort is available here:
Annual Report for 2018 Program: April 10, 2019 (PPT Deck, 23 pp.)
- How does the Park District use chemical controls for fuels management?
The Park District’s program to promote healthy forests uses mechanical removal of vegetation as its primary tool. When removing trees such as eucalyptus which pose significant fire hazards and have a high rate of re-sprouting, the Park District uses hand-application to apply a chemical control directly to the tree stump.
- What is the Park District doing to make sure the IPM program is safe?
Public health and safety is a top priority for the Park District. The Park District’s IPM program utilizes the most sustainable methods to protect the safety of our visitors and enhance parklands’ natural resources. The program focuses on those pests that threaten public safety and the health of our natural resources. The IPM unit includes a licensed professional that specializes in pest management. The Park District staff also consult regularly with the academic research community and our sister land management agencies on recent studies and tools that can help improve the Park District’s pest control program. We also provide regular trainings and updates to our park rangers to help improve their effectiveness. The Park District continues to look for opportunities to improve our program. Moving forward the Park District will identify and prioritize organic chemical controls and opt for the most sustainable method(s) to control pests, protect public safety and improve the health of our parks.
- What can I do to help?
- ♦ Become a weed mapper! Calflora you can identify and map the extent of invasive weeds as well as native plants. This data helps land managers strategize, co-operate and adaptively manage programs. http://calflora.org/
- ♦ Download the Districts invasive plant guide and mapping instructions.
- ♦ When treating pests (insects, weeds, rodents, molds, etc.) Consult the extensive data base from the University of California Integrate Pest Management: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/
- ♦ Bay Friendly Landscaping can help you save water, use fewer pesticides and provide valuable habitat for birds and pollinators, Check them out at: http://www.acgov.org/sustain/what/greenbuilding/bfl.htm
- ♦ To minimize rodents, exclusion and sanitation is the most effective treatment! UC IPM provides many integrated approaches for rodent control. Check out the Hungry Owl Project at https://www.hungryowls.org/ and encourage natural predators.