Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Maine Board of Pesticides Control - October 2006

Maine BPC Reports \ BPC October 2006

BPC Reviews Browntail Moth Report

The BPC has monitored browntail moth spraying closely, because the lobster industry has pushed hard for tight standards to prevent contamination of lobster fisheries in the shorefront. At its Oct. 13, 2006, meeting, the BPC discussed the draft report of the Environmental Risk Advisory Committee’s (ERAC) browntail moth report to the Legislature (available at The study examined Maine state law requiring a 50-foot buffer from water resources when spraying for the moths. The ERAC study concluded “that the 50-foot buffer appears to be adequate for protection of the water resources provided the wind is off the ocean and the spray is directed away from the water.”

The consensus of the ERAC and the invited guests was to ask the Legislature to take two actions:
  • To extend the current law 22 MRSA § 1445 for another year with the following modifications:
§2 – add "mist blowers" to list of equipment between 50 and 250 feet;

§2.D – add "and wind speed is greater than or equal to 3 mph";

§4 – add an exemption for "non-powered equipment used by appropriately certified and licensed applicators."

  • To sunset the amended statute on March 31, 2008, in order to allow time for the BPC to incorporate the above protections for marine resources in regulation.
Board members suggested that the report and information for the Legislature include: an appropriate buffer for aerial spraying in the rulemaking process; the monitoring summary with the conclusions section moved to the beginning of the report; monitoring results and report data as supporting documents; and a cover letter clarifying that the BPC has done what the Legislature asked of them and reached virtually the same conclusion as the previous, similar study; indicate that the BPC intends to educate homeowners in the protection area to prevent irresponsible pesticide use and to emphasize alternatives.

Exception to School IPM 5-day Advance Notice for Pesticide Application Rule
During the fall of 2005, two horses and one bird tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, which prompted a couple of southern Maine schools to immediately treat for mosquitoes adjacent to athletic fields. Because Chapter 27 of the BPC rules (School IPM) requires a five-day advance notice for pesticide applications when school is in session, responding quickly to a public health concern may contradict the rule. Accordingly, the board adopted an interim policy on January 20, 2006, that would exempt powered applications for mosquito control when the Maine CDC has identified arbovirus (arthropod-borne virus) positive animals (including mosquitoes and ticks) in the area. Since arboviruses likely will continue to be a concern, amending Chapter 27 to account for this need would be prudent, the board believes.

The approved amendment would add a new subsection 3C: "When the Maine Center for Disease Control has identified arbovirus positive animals (including mosquitoes and ticks) in the area, powered applications for mosquito control are exempt from Section 4 and 5 (B). Applicators should post the treated area as soon as practical, in a manner consistent with section 4 C (3) (a)."

Stakeholders’ Committee on Aerial Applications
The BPC staff proposed a committee of four members from each of three groups of stakeholders: government, users and those impacted by drift. Board members agreed on the importance of equal representation from all sides of the issue and on having committee members who can listen to opposing viewpoints. The objective of the committee is to find a middle ground that everyone can live with. A point was raised that it is more difficult for members of the public at large to attend than for employees of organizations, companies, agencies, etc., who are coming as part of their jobs. Those public members would most likely be part of those impacted by drift, so care must be taken to maintain balance in the committee with that in mind. Efforts will also be made not to include groups already represented on the technical committee. The meetings will be open to the public, and non-committee members will have opportunities to provide input. Meetings will be held in Bangor and will be posted publicly beforehand (see The BPC staff will begin composing the committee and plan the first meeting for December or January. Given the time frame, rule changes regarding aerial spraying are not likely to be in place before the next growing season.

Best Management Practices for Turf Pesticides and Fertilizers

The BPC staff has produced a draft document outlining best management practices (BMPs) for applying turf pesticides and fertilizers (see The BPC plans to seek feedback on the document from the regulated community, hopefully leading to increased participation in the BMPs as well as increased education of the public by that industry.

BPC board and staff disagreed about whether they should promote alternatives to chemicals (slow-growing grass, yards without lawns, management using organic methods) along with this document. Some argued that promoting alternatives to chemicals could hurt the lawn care industry, and this perception would cause the industry to ignore the BMP document. Others argued that promoting alternatives to chemicals would not hurt the industry and could help shift its practices.
The BPC plans to create a supplemental document outlining the most commonly used pesticides and fertilizers and their associated environmental risks for homeowners and industry professionals to use as a guideline when deciding which products to use.


The BPC recently launched its Yardscaping demonstration site on Portland’s Back Cove Trail with a press conference and signage on the trail showing the design of the site, including low input grasses, and native plants donated by Skillins and O’Donal’s greenhouses. Groundbreaking will occur this spring; donations and volunteers are being sought. For more information, see

The next BPC meetings will take place on Dec. 15 (no snow date) and Jan. 19 (Jan. 26 snow date). Check for locations.