LIHU‘E — The nonprofit organization Beyond Pesticides got the green light Wednesday from the Kauai County Council to partner with the county Department of Parks &Recreation on a project to train staff on alternative pest-management strategies.
Kauai County, like many land managers in Hawaii, uses some pesticides, herbicides and insecticides to manage pests in county parks.
Using a $7,500 grant obtained by Beyond Pesticides, the two entities will be targeting Kapaa Beach Park and Hofgaard Park in Waimea as initial sites for the training, which will provide information and resources to reduce the amount of toxic products used in weed and turf management on Kauai.
Wednesday, the council was briefed on the project by Beyond Pesticides director of Hawaii Organic Land Management Project, Autumn Ness, who brought councilmembers up to speed on organic weed-management strategies that are showing potential on Maui.
One of the pilot projects that Ness is excited about is using steam to kill guinea grass.
“It’s been a month and a half since we treated. It makes this really thick mat of vegetation, a weed mat that prevents regrowth,” Ness said. “We’re waiting to see how long (until) the young sprouts start. Already it’s working better than RoundUp because of the weed mat.”
Councilmembers wanted to know the specific targets of the study and details of the alternative pest-management strategies. Ness explained, depending upon the area, different strategies will be involved.
“Sometimes it’s as simple as substituting in compost and microbial inputs,” she said. “The first part of the site visits is to find out what inputs they’re using right now and doing a cost analysis.”
The plan is to make any changes on a cost-for-cost basis, so the county doesn’t have to pay any extra for new styles of pest management.
The Pesticide-Free Parks pilot started in Maui in 2017 and is a year-long pilot that aims to reduce the amount of inputs and pesticides needed to manage pests.
Beyond Pesticides is planning on holding public meetings on Kauai after representatives make site visits and create a list of possible, non-toxic, pest-management solutions.
Department of Parks &Recreation Director Patrick Porter was also on hand to answer questions at the Wednesday meeting, and said the department is on board with the training.
“(We’re) excited that Autumn and her team approached us,” Porter said Wednesday. “We want the county to be ahead of the game, and will be working with our guys to do that.”
Jessica Else, editor-in-chief, can be reached at 245-0457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.