Grand Lake considers spraying, fertilizer restrictions near water
April 14, 2009
Grand Lake may pass a law that regulates the use of pesticides and fertilizers close to water.
Under consideration is a draft law that forbids the use of spray pesticides and phosphorus-containing fertilizers within 30 feet of private and town wells, lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, irrigation ditches and “any other body of water” within town limits.
Fertilizers containing phosphorus can result in “over-enrichment of water, which leads to an overabundance of algae and other aquatic plants,” states the town’s draft law.
Forbidding their use is in accord with the town’s goal of improving Grand Lake water clarity, town officials said.
Chemicals such as carbaryl and permethrin used to fight beetles have been known to kill aquatic invertebrates, one of the main food sources for fish. Chemical labels include warnings, but according to town code enforcer Dan Korkowski, who has been researching the subject, confirmed by local commercial pesticide sprayer Howard Kleaver, only one permethrin product mandates a 25-foot spraying setback from water sources.
In the world of chemical spray: “The label is the law.”
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State laws limit what chemicals the town can regulate, but the town can regulate in the name of storm-water management and protection of groundwater and drinking supplies as long as regulations are consistent with federal and state laws, Korkowski told trustees.
“We would be able to be more stringent because of our water supply,” Korkowski said, noting that the town has a “shallow aquifer.”
The draft Grand Lake law would effectively add a layer of regulation, making it a town violation to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers in a manner inconsistent with label directions and any state and federal laws.
But town officials delayed voting on the new law, directing Korkowski to research whether a noted $300 fine “per violation” could mean “per tree” rather than per-incidence as the current draft law suggests.
The law is scheduled to return to the board of trustees for a possible vote on April 27.
Spraying on town property
Discussions surrounding a 30-foot spray setback law in the town of Grand Lake segued into trustees’ lengthy debate about the town’s own spraying policy.
The town budgeted $16,000 to spray its own trees this year, down $5,000 from last year.
But whether that budgeted amount should be used for spraying again divided town board members, with some calling for preservation of remaining trees and others arguing for replanting rather than using more pesticides in town.
Areas targeted for contracted tree spraying are the town park, Thomasson Park along Highway 40 outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, and the Grand Lake Cemetery.
Trustee Benton Johnson advocated that the town back off from spray chemicals and instead focus its resources on planting new trees.
But the Grand Lake Cemetery Committee is not in favor of allowing trees to die in light of efforts to save them over the past four years, according to committee chair Ronda Kolinski.
Last year, about 700 trees were sprayed in the cemetery situated inside of Rocky Mountain National Park boundaries. Those trees have done well, Kolinski informed trustees.
Trustees resolved to have cemetery trees sprayed again, but were then split on whether to have Town Park trees sprayed, trees which have been sprayed for free in past years.
Benton and Trustee Jim Peterson agreed spraying in town square with potential drift was too high a risk for trees that may die anyway from either age or beetles.
They were outnumbered by those who agreed that the Town Park’s trees greatly add to town aesthetics and should continue to be protected.
As far as Thomasson Park, the board resolved to cut back its spraying to only those trees that line Highway 40 to give the “illusion of healthy green” as tourists exit Rocky Mountain National Park.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail email@example.com.