Citizens push Jacksonville parks to go organic

Two people sit and watch children play on the playground at Doc Griffin Park (Georgia Lawson/News 10)

A campaign is under way to stop synthetic chemicals from being used in Jacksonville parks.

Lauren Kemple has lived in Jacksonville with her family for four years, and frequents Doc Griffin Park, where her two daughters like to play.

"This summer we were here and it was warm. The girls were running around barefoot, and my friend texted me this little tiny sign that was posted over here that said they had sprayed, but it didn't say what they had sprayed or when," Kemple said.

A call to city hall revealed it was pesticides with ingredients like 2,4-D and Dicamba, which Kemple says is worrisome as a mother, due to the potentially harmful health impacts.

She and some friends started going to city meetings, and have since persuaded the city to start using organic fertilizer, but she hopes, with their continued effort, they'll start using organic pesticides too.

"It feels like in a way this is a really small thing, but for me it's like, if we can do this here, and all these other places are doing it, that's an investment in the future," Kemple said.

Ashland and Talent already have similar policies in place.

The non-toxic movement is also making an impact in Salem. Proposed House Bill 3058 and Senate Bill 853 would "prohibit sale, purchase or use of pesticide chlorpyrifos."

The synthetic pesticide industry at large also suffered a blow this week, when Monsanto was forced to pay a California man $80 million after a jury found Roundup weed killer contributed to his cancer.

While Jacksonville is a smaller community, and the chemicals they use are not proven to be a human carcinogen, Kemple hopes that the city will stick with the trend of communities turning toward organic products.

Jacksonville will hold a study session on April 8th to discuss the issue in greater depth.

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