Kudos to Falmouth’s Conservation Commission for recommending to the Falmouth Town Council that it adopt the commission’s proposed regulation to limit residential use of pesticides and certain synthetic fertilizers (effective 2025) – similar to the regulations adopted in Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth.

I live in a Falmouth subdivision, one of many. There is a culture in subdivisions expecting lot owners to maintain green carpet-like lawns for a well-manicured neighborhood look. The lot owner who has a fertilizer-free and pesticide-free biodiverse lawn can be viewed as an outlier.

But we are now seeing how this neighborhood carpet-lawn culture contributes to bee and insect die-off, and to excess nitrogen runoff into Casco Bay that contributes to the depletion of our stocks of fish and shellfish. Algae blooms are increasing in Casco Bay – from five locations in 2017 to 18 locations in 2019. In August 2023, the media reported “an usually large” algae bloom along the whole southern Maine coast.

Veterinary studies report that dogs’ exposure to lawn pesticides raise the risk of canine malignant lymphoma by as much as 70%, and that such common herbicides as are found in Casco Bay stormwater are linked to canine bladder cancer.

We need leadership at a community-wide level to help make it not only OK for us to stop using pesticides and chemical fertilizers on our lawns, but also a virtue, for the greater good. Let us hope that the Falmouth Town Council will provide that leadership and adopt the proposed regulation.

Peggy McGehee

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