Green is the way to go

Thursday, June 5, 2008

At last week's Cherokee City Council meeting, a discussion was held on the fact that city parks and other grassy areas of the city have large amounts of dandelions.

This is apparently a bad year for dandelions and city owned property is not the only property in Cherokee to have a heavy infestation of dandelions. However, many people feel that the city should set an example and be held to a higher standard in the care of property.

Two problems in controlling dandelions on city property were described by Duane Mummert, park superintendent, at the last council meeting.

The first problem is that the city has no money for chemicals. The general operating budget has been stretched tighter and tighter over the last several years. Any added expenditure for something means something has to be removed from the budget.

The second reason is that chemical spraying of toxins was stopped many years ago because of health concerns expressed by citizens. Children, pets and people with breathing problems are most at risk from chemical sprays.

When public property is sprayed with herbicides, the responsible public entity is required to post the property for 24 hours. This doesn't mean that all toxins disappear in a 24-hour period after a spraying of herbicides, just that 24 hours is about as long as a public park can be closed as a practical matter.

This also doesn't mean that a park will not be used just because of signs being posted.

Young children will not likely read the signs. Even children old enough to read and to be in a park unsupervised will likely ignore posted signs. Actually even adults will likely ignore signs unless they are huge or posted every few feet and are illustrated with skull and crossbones.

An alternative method of controlling dandelions is frequent mowing, especially in early spring.

There are a couple of problems with this. Number one is that frequent mowing is not cheap. The city cannot afford to mow as often as it should even without trying to control dandelions.

The second problem is that frequent mowing will not result in satisfactory weed control for those who demand a pristine lawn without blemish. A certain amount of dandelions and other weeds has to be accepted without spraying.

However, dandelions will not kill off the grass entirely in even a heavily infested lawn.

Concern for the health of our citizens rises above aesthetic considerations of lawn maintenance.

The city should not spray large areas of grass with herbicides.