AUGUSTA – More than 1,600 people have put their names on a registry since April 1 to learn about pesticide spraying near their homes.

The state Board of Environmental Protection credited its public relations campaign with informing Mainers about the registry. Before the campaign began, there were 525 names on the registry. June 15, the list had 1,606, the board said in a recent report.

The issue of pesticide notification resurfaced this week when Gov. Paul LePage mistakenly told an audience of environmentalists that farmers must notify neighbors 90 days in advance of spraying.

“Now we need to think about that,” LePage told more than 500 people at a forum at the Augusta Civic Center. “That is where science and common sense need to sort of communicate.”

Heather Spaulding, associate director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, told LePage there is no 90-day notification requirement; it was repealed on April 1.

The Legislature established rules for a pesticide notification system, including a registry, in September 2009 to create a system allowing Mainers to be contacted in advance when chemicals are used near their homes.

Spaulding said Friday, “The intent of the 90 days was during the off season, when farmers weren’t busy in the field … They could let neighbors, who could get on the registry, know when they were going to spray.

“The land managers felt that would be too much of an administrative burden, so the Legislature did away with it,” she said. “(Legislators) said, ‘Keep the registry,’ but people would have to get on it themselves.”

Spaulding said the new rule says land managers and farmers who apply pesticides with aerial or air-blast spray technologies must consult the registry to determine who in the neighborhood would like to be notified within a week of spraying.

Paul Schlein, spokesman for the BEP, said the 2011 deadline to enroll is March 15.

Spaulding said she is concerned about several bills in the Legislature, backed by Republicans, to significantly roll back notification requirements.

“We haven’t seen all the language, but we know there are attempts to go back to the notification requirements before there was a registry,” she said.