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Great Lawns/Great Lakes: Providing Integrated Pest Management Education, specific to Lawncare, to Municipalities in the Genesee River/Lake Ontario Watershed 2001

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Project Leader(s): Brian Eshenaur, Consumer Horticulture Team Leader, CCE - Monroe County

Sharon Rosenblum, Consumer Horticulture Educator, CCE - Monroe County

Cooperator(s): Monroe County Health Department; Bureau of Water Quality Planning Water Education Collaborative Monroe County; Master Gardener Program of CCE - Monroe County

Type of grant: Public Education

Project location(s): Monroe County

Abstract: The goal of the Great Lawns/Great Lakes program is to improve water quality by educating and encouraging homeowners to use IPM lawn care practices that would reduce pesticides and nutrient usage. Funding this project allowed us to offer our current Great Lawns/Great Lakes program, previously in only 3 neighborhoods, to all municipal properties in Monroe County.

Background and justification: A large-scale watershed plan for Lake Ontario and the Genesee River Watershed was completed in 1997 and recommended several actions to remediate water quality problems. Public meetings were held to determine which actions were of highest priority to the community; lawn care education ranked highest. In addition, the Monroe County Health Department conducted a telephone survey in the year 2000 of 516 randomly selected county residents to gauge water quality opinions and knowledge. To the question, "Would you be willing to reduce applications of fertilizer and pesticides to your lawn, if it would improve water quality?" 81% of respondents who currently use pesticides and/or fertilizers answered "yes". This supports our premise that people will be responsive to changes in lawn care practices if they are provided education.

The Great Lawns/Great Lakes pilot project began in June 2000 currently has 20 Master Gardener volunteers working with 100 homeowners in three different community neighborhoods. Municipal officials in the towns where the three pilot program neighborhoods are located have all been interested and receptive to participating in the demonstration project. Persons living in these three neighborhoods have identified stream, pond, wetland, river, and lake pollution as serious concerns that need to be addressed. Through a survey of these homeowners in the summer of the year 2000, we have come to understand that the vast majority of local homeowners are unaware of how their current lawn care practices may negatively impact local water quality, and how this relates to our failure to meet Great Lakes water quality goals.

Objectives:

  1. Provide in-depth educational programs and materials to municipal employees representing a minimum of ten municipalities.
  2. Institute IPM lawn care practices on an estimated 1,000 acres of municipal lawns.
  3. Project Evaluation.

Procedures:

Objective #1.

Objective #2:

Objective #3:

Results and discussion: Personal letters, telephone calls, presentations at municipal water quality committee meetings and on-site visits were made to interest municipalities in participating in this program.

Initial response to the program was lower than expected. We felt it was important to listen to their issues and consider ways of addressing them as our efforts continue. Their responses/reasons were quite varied:

We are aware of the above attitutes as we move forward bringing this program to local muncipalities. At this point work planned with and interested municipalities includes:

Through these outreach activities we expect a greater adoption of proper turf management practices, along with a more integrated approach to conrol weed, disease and insect problems to occur within Monroe County Muncipalities.