Lasting solutions to Oregon problems combine local know-how with practical advice from experts, provide measurable results, and work for both people and the environment. It’s the Oregon way.
A uniquely Oregon solution to reduce unsafe levels of pesticides found in our waters is the Pesticide Stewardship Program, a program that has proven itself through pilots and, thanks to our governor and state legislature, is now a permanent part of Oregon’s efforts to protect human and aquatic health.
The 2013 Oregon Legislature approved $1.5 million per biennium in state funding for collaborative, voluntary, locally led pesticide stewardship projects and community pesticide collection events in Oregon. Oregon’s Departments of Agriculture (ODA) and Environmental Quality (DEQ) will formalize and expand pilot projects that have already significantly decreased pesticide runoff. In some watersheds, such as Hood River and Walla Walla, these projects have reduced pesticides of concern by over 90 percent. In the Hood River Basin, orchardists successfully avoided development of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for certain pesticides by voluntarily reducing pesticide runoff instead.
As has been demonstrated by local leaders in Hood River, Wasco and Umatilla counties, effective voluntary stewardship programs can avoid a regulatory approach, provide flexibility and control to land managers, and enable pesticide users to address multiple pesticides at once with less time and cost investment.
They can also provide Oregon with monitoring data and practical solutions to inform federal pesticide use discussions.
Pesticide Stewardship Programs bring value to local land managers by giving them access to the resources of the state’s nationally recognized academic experts in pest, disease and weed management. These resources help land managers develop pest, disease and weed control strategies that maintain profitability, protect water resources and avoid regulatory risk. Community pesticide collection events enable pesticide users to anonymously and safely dispose of waste pesticides. This reduces costs for land managers and prevents leaks, spills and runoff.
The new Pesticide Stewardship Program investments will be guided by the interagency Water Quality Pesticide Management Team, led by ODA and DEQ in collaboration with members Oregon Department of Forestry, Oregon Health Authority and Oregon State University.
This program was unanimously supported through the legislative process by a diverse group of 30 organizations representing environmental, agriculture, health and forestry interests. These groups united in support of the Pesticide Stewardship Program because it uses the best of local knowledge and state expertise to create voluntary, collaborative solutions that truly work to measurably reduce pesticide pollution. We hope other communities throughout
Oregon will also adopt this successful model.
Allison Hensey is program director, food and farms, for the Oregon Environmental Council in Portland. Ken Bailey is vice president of Orchard View Farms in The Dalles, Ore.