I have always been taken by surprise by how some states regulations appear to be much stricter than others, even among the states of the Northwest region. However, all states are required to conform to the federal regulations and TMDLs, and it’s only a matter of time before a state will get sued by an environmental watch-dog group for not complying. If states want to continue to receive federal monies, they need to abide by the laws and meet the federal standards. Some states simply have not put it on their priority list but I believe this narrative is changing. Golf continues to be under the scrutiny of the public eye and states that have gone under the radar are starting to become a little more aware of their environmental footprint when it comes to water and pesticide use.
Oregon and Washington have experienced the pressure over the last 20 years. In 2000, they took the initiative to develop the Oregon Stewardship Guidelines, a comprehensive IPM/BMP document which garnered the GCSAA Presidents Award in 2005. Today, GCSAA is working with states and their local chapters to establish state-wide BMPs across the entire country. The goal is to have them in place by the end of 2020.
Members in those states who haven’t experienced the added pressure from the government on water and pesticide use may be asking what all the hype is about and why states are spending thousands on writing a state BMP. The answer to that is simple: just wait. My advice is that it is far better to be ahead of the curve than playing catch-up once the regulators come knocking at your door.
Recently, Utah GCSA President Justin Woodland received an email from Henry Nahalewski, the Pesticide Program Manager of the Utah Department of Agriculture & Food. It is safe to say that Utah is one of those states who have experienced the more hands-off approach to regulation, but this certainly details that the times are changing.
The email read:
I am sending this email to you in hopes of you distributing it to as many Utah golf course supers as possible. Over the past few years we've had several complaints either directly involving golf courses, or suspicions on herbicide drift damage caused by golf courses. In an effort to reduce these issues, over the next 2 years or so our pesticide inspectors will be contacting golf courses to set up a time to meet with applicators/supers to inspect pesticide storage facilities, PPE, application practices and labels. Education and compliance assistance will be offered.
Again, we are not out to write citations, we are out to educate in an effort to reduce pesticide issues from golf courses. Even if a non-commercial applicator applies only GUP's, they are still subject to the pesticide label directions, FIFRA and the Utah Pesticide Control Act.
If you have any questions, please contact me. If any super would like to be proactive and contact the pesticide inspector that covers their area, please contact them.
Pesticide Program Manager
Utah Dept. of Agriculture & Food
I’m sure that Mr. Nahalewski would expect some sort of resistance to a letter such as this, but it gives the Utah superintendents a great opportunity to turn around and welcome him and his staff and open a dialogue and move forward.
This communication will open the channels between Utah state superintendents and the state of Utah and will also provide an avenue to educate the regulators on the newly developed golf course BMP. Since the Utah State Golf Course BMP is currently in development, this may also provide an opportunity to invite Mr. Nahalewski to become part of the process and help review the document. It can be a win-win, all around.