Pesticide Reduction Program

The Boise Parks and Recreation Department manages more than 1,600 acres of park land, and more than 5,000 acres of open space across the City of Boise. To promote sustainable practices and stay on the cutting edge of public land management, the department embarked on a three-year pilot program in 2020 to study alternative land management techniques to reduce the use of pesticides on city-owned property. The program has now expanded to most city parks and is in the final year of the pilot phase.

Reducing the use of pesticides throughout the city’s park system is part of our larger sustainability goal, and we continue to move forward with innovative ways to improve park maintenance strategies.

Information on the first two years of the pilot program is published in the annual Pesticide Application Reports below:

2023 Pilot Program Update

Since 2020 when the Pesticide Use Reduction Pilot Program was implemented Boise Parks and Recreation has successfully reduced overall pesticide applications by more than 40%, applications of glyphosate-based herbicides by more than 80% and eliminated the use of neonicotinoid insecticides.

2022 was the final year of the pilot program.

In 2023, the department will be building these successes into our park maintenance policies.

What to Expect

Grass areas could have more dandelions, clover, and other broadleaf plants. These plants are nontoxic for people and pups, and these areas are completely safe for park visitors to enjoy as normal. Treatments help control the population of such plants at our park sites, but keep in mind that the Common Dandelion is one of the few endemic turf weeds that is native to North America. These broadleaf plants are beneficial to the local ecosystem providing food and habitat to native pollinators and adding to the biodiversity of our green spaces.

Boise Parks and Recreation does not seek to eradicate dandelions from our sites. We only try to manage the number and density of plants to maintain usable and aesthetically pleasing turf areas.

Additionally, untrimmed grass may be longer. Cosmetic uses (spraying of tree wells) of glyphosate-based herbicides will be further curtailed at park sites. Untrimmed areas and tree wells can have other plants fill in. Increasing the mowing height for turf improves the overall health of the grass and requires less maintenance resources, like mowing frequency and water.

We will be employing cultural methods to reduce populations (i.e. mowing, fertilizing, aerating, etc.). Neonicotinoid insecticides have been eliminated from use for turfed areas in response to the latest direction from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Next Steps

The Boise Parks and Recreation team is using pilot program data and community feedback to potentially implement broader policy changes for ongoing implementation and study.

What successful pesticide reduction looks like

Grass with dandelions in Ann Morrison Park in late April
Ann Morrison Park Turf Area 4/25/2022
Up close photo of grass with dandelions and other weeds in Ann Morrison Park in late April
Ann Morrison Park Turf Area (Zoomed In) 4/25/2022
Peppermint Park Tree Well
Peppermint Park Tree Well 4/25/2022
Beetle on purple loosestrife
Black-Margined Loosestrife Beetles released as biocontrol for noxious weeds (Purple Loosestrife pictured).

Community Feedback

We want to hear from you! As Boise Parks and Recreation looks at implementing the Pesticide Reduction program as standard practice throughout most parks, community engagement and support is an important component of potential policy changes. Are you noticing changes in your neighborhood park? Do you want to see the program be adopted throughout city parks? Do you have questions about the department’s intentions for pest management? Share your feedback, questions and photos with us.

Stay in the Know

The Pesticide Reduction Program is in its final phase of the pilot period. Our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) team will evaluate the data collected over the last three years to guide any policy changes or practice improvements.

For more background information about the Pesticide Reduction Program:

Parks with No Changes

  • Ann Morrison Park
  • Boise Depot/Platt Gardens
  • Camel's Back Park
  • Cecil D. Andrus Park
  • Cherie Buckner-Webb Park
  • Esther Simplot Park
  • Fort Boise Park
  • Julia Davis Park
  • Kathryn Albertson Park
  • Kristin Armstrong Municipal Park
  • Marianne Williams Park
  • Optimist Youth Sports Complex
  • Simplot Sports Complex
  • Veterans Memorial Park
  • Willow Lane Athletic Complex

Parks Where Only Sports Fields Being Treated

  • Cassia Park
  • Charles F. McDevitt Youth Sports Complex
  • Hillside Park
  • Hobble Creek Park
  • Ivywild Park
  • Liberty Park
  • Milwaukee Park
  • Molenaar Park
  • Shoshone Park
  • Sunset Park
  • Winstead Park

Any park not listed above is an active Pesticide Reduction Program site. For a list of all City of Boise parks: https://www.cityofboise.org/departments/parks-and-recreation/parks/.

Contact Us

For questions or concerns about current pest management practices or future goals, please feel free to contact the staff below:

Clint Stevens
Horticulture Division Manager
Boise Parks and Recreation Department
(208) 608-7843
Email

Daniel Roop
Sustainability Specialist
Boise Parks and Recreation Department
(208) 608-7611
Email

Martha Brabec
Foothills Restoration Specialist
Boise Parks and Recreation Department
(208) 493-2535
Email

Sun and grass

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices reduce the spread of undesirable plants, insects, bacteria or other organisms that have a negative impact on our landscape or human health. An IPM program utilizes different tools to control pests in ways that are least impactful to the environment and most effective for getting rid of specific pests. These tools may include the application of a targeted pesticide or shifting management practices to help reduce the likelihood of pest establishment on city property.

The City of Boise Parks and Recreation Department first started using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices in 1995.  The department most recently updated its guidelines to improve these efforts in 2016.

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For other after hours park related emergencies (i.e. irrigation issues, restrooms), please call (208) 489-6640.