Missed opportunities to tackle invasive species are prompting a proposed exemption to a longstanding ban on using pesticides on city-owned land.
Superior’s Urban Forestry Committee is recommending carving out an exemption that would allow the use of pesticides without Council approval for the purpose of controlling invasive plants as defined by the Wisconsin Natural Resources administrative code, NR 40.
That rule is revised every year, said Darienne McNamara, a Superior environmental regulatory manager who wrote the language for the exemption.
The application would still have to approved by the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department director, and would have to be applied according to pesticide label instruction by a qualified professional with a valid Wisconsin pesticide license, preferably with two years or more experience conducting invasive plant control with pesticides. The posting and notification requirements for pesticide use would still apply.
This would overcome some unintended consequences of putting the pesticide ordinance in place, said Linda Cadotte, parks, recreation and forestry director.
“I’ve had a couple of situations recently where we had opportunities to have partners help us with some invasive control because we have this pesticide ordinance,” said Cadotte, adding that they walked away because they didn’t want to go through the process to get an exemption.
Originally, the ordinance was adopted in the early 1970s to prevent the misuse of pesticides because of their potential impact on indigenous plants and wildlife, surface water, groundwater and people.
Nonnative plants, however, pose a challenge for the city.
“We are required to do something about this,” McNamara said.
“We’re not looking for a shortcut by any means,” Cadotte said. “But the ability to (respond) when the window of opportunity opens. Just in the last month alone, windows of opportunity have come and gone.”
The Council considers the ordinance change when it meets Sept. 3.