Conservation Update, 2017 Jul | OC Transportation Authority Conservation Plan, Herbicide Policy,

From the Desk of Celia Kutcher, Conservation Chair



Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks recently celebrated the finalization of the Orange County Transportation Authority’s Natural Communities Conservation Plan and Habitat Conservation Plan. A lot of time, energy and commitment by many individuals, elected officials, organizations (including OCCNPS), and agencies made this program so successful. Congratulations to everyone involved! Details of the Plans and how they came to be:



CNPS has two policies that cover herbicide use as a tool for controlling the spread of non-native plants into and within native wildlands. (CNPS, 2008. Herbicide Policy, Integrated Weed Management Policy, The main concern of both policies is that the control work be done in a manner that avoids injury to any native vegetation, hence to the biodiversity of our native ecosystems. Neither policy addresses the use of herbicides in non-wildlands, i.e. home or public landscaping or agricultural lands.

The policies call for the use of Integrated Weed Management (IWM), which requires:

  • Coordination of multiple efforts: prevention, early detection/rapid response, mapping, control, revegetation, and monitoring.
  • Site-specific selection of available control methods: mechanical, biological, cultural, and chemical. The choice of methods is based on effectiveness, efficiency, practicality, ecological impact, and safety.

In 2016 the City of Irvine adopted an Integrated Pest Management Program that is essentially IWM broadened to include animal pests. However, the program includes blanket restrictions on the use of synthetic-based herbicides on city lands, including in its natural open space/wildland areas. Other OC cities are considering adopting similar programs, and looking to Irvine’s experience with its program.

A recent report on the results of a year of this regimen in Irvine revealed that…

the allowed organic-based herbicides are mostly ineffective against tough weeds such as bindweed, nutsedge, artichoke thistle and castor bean.

The report comments that significant progress had been made, over the previous 10 years, against proliferation of invasive weeds using the synthetic-based herbicides allowed under the previous regimen. The organic-based herbicides now allowed will require more frequent applications to maintain any control of such weeds.

OCCNPS’ position on herbicide use follows CNPS’ Policies:

  1. Successful control of weeds in OC’s native open spaces/wildlands depends on the IWM approach. As appropriate, this includes judicious use of synthetic-based herbicide by trained, experienced applicators under supervision of the open space/wildlands’ managers, done according to all applicable laws and regulations.
  2. Blanket restrictions on synthetic-based herbicide use severely curtail open space/wildland managers’ ability to combat OC’s aggressive weed populations. OC’s county and city governments—and ultimately, OC’s taxpayers—have, in the past decade or two, made a large investment of time, effort and funds in preserving our native habitats and biodiversity. This investment should be protected by removing the blanket restrictions and allowing full use of synthetic-based herbicides in OC open space/wildlands where such use fulfills IWM criteria.


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