Cochran Coordinates Maui’s First-Ever Large Scale Training on Pesticide Alternatives

May 4, 2017, 11:32 AM HST · Updated May 4, 11:33 AM
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Elle Cochran. Photo courtesy Office of Council Services

Maui County Councilmember Elle Cochran has coordinated a series of events that includes county, state and private property managers, in what is being called Maui’s first-ever large scale training series on alternatives to landscape pesticides.

County, state, non-profits and private property managers will join forces for two weeks of solution- oriented events led by national pesticide advocacy organization, Beyond Pesticides.

Participants include the state Department of Transportation, Maui County Parks and Recreation, various Maui public schools, and several local resorts, condos and golf course management groups.

Soil health and alternatives to pesticide use, including the use of goats for weed management, will be discussed.

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“We will teach interested parties how to replace toxic pesticides with management practices that nurture the ecosystem, build soil health, respect biodiversity, cycle nutrients naturally, and result in beautiful resilient landscapes,” said Jay Feldman, Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides.

Event organizers say local communities have long expressed concerns over the health and environmental impacts of pesticides. Organizers say agencies and private companies who use pesticides have been largely unable to address those concerns because of budget and skill-gaps. “The events and training (sessions) aim to provide those tools and management skills in hopes that Maui will become a national leader that works with natural systems to create beautiful communities,” said Cochran. “A better way to manage our land and resources is possible.”

According to event organizers, The Westin Maui Resort and Spa in Kāʻanapali has been actively trying to set a better standard for resort landscape management.  “Stopping glyphosates, heavy metal fertilizers and neonicotinoids has changed how we do things here at The Westin Maui Resort and Spa. Using a locally-produced, sustainable compost and bark mulch has closed the loop on our green waste. We know that we will have much less of an effect on our ecosystem by truly stewarding our beautiful 12 acres of resort surroundings on Kāʻanapali Beach,” said Duane Sparkman, Engineering and Landscaping Manager for the resort.

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According to Chochran, here has been an increase in resources and attention given to organic agriculture methods, but this is the first time efforts on this scale have been made to support organic landscape management.

Beyond Pesticides was eager to help kick-start this initiative here on Maui. “My 30 years of work with organic agriculture has led me to trust groups such as Beyond Pesticides who look out for the greater good when making suggestions, since they look at the whole picture and consider the consequences of actions, rather than simply look at the short-term financial impacts of choices made. Let us continue to work side by side for the health of the whole and especially the unique ecosystems of Hawaiʻi,” said Colehour Bondera of Kanalani ʻOhana Farm and Beyond Pesticides board member.

The series of events begins on May 17th, and includes two full-day training sessions with the County Parks Department that will be the start of a one-year pesticide free parks pilot program on four busy Maui Parks. The State Department of Transportation Highways Division will participate in a two week pilot program using goats for weed management on designated roadsides.

Two of the events are open to the community:

  • May 17: Free Community Pesticide Free Lawn Care Workshop: Learn how you can have a beautiful lawn without toxic pesticides.  (6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Waikapū Community Center).
  • May 19: Free One Day Course on Pesticide Free Landscape, Turf and Golf Course Management: Open to Landscape Managers and Staff of: resorts, hotels, golf courses, schools, condos, apartments, and local landscaping companies. (9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa in Kāʻanapali).  Space is limited, RSVP early to Autumn Ness at 270-5512 or email [email protected]

“I look forward to working with land managers on site and soil biology analyses, organic land management plan development, practitioner training, product choice, and the successful adoption of a systems approach to managing the pilot sites,” said Chip Osborne, President, Osborne Organics.

With this initiative, Maui County joins other international efforts like those seen in France, Reno, Irvine and Washington, D.C., to scale back the use of pesticides on public and private lands.

“This is a long standing issue in our community and nationwide, and I’m encouraged to see county, state, non-profit agencies and the private sector work together on solutions. I am grateful to Beyond Pesticides and Osborne Organics for bringing skills and resources to our Parks Department and other entities in our community so they can succeed in long term pesticide-free land management.”

“It’s a beautiful thing when so many people work together for the greater good. A better way to care for our land is possible, with the right skills and resources. Ultimately, our keiki and our environment win when we address issues like this in solution-oriented ways,” said Cochran.

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