Reno City Council recently approved a pilot program that will transition 12 city parks to pesticide-free maintenance. The decision comes shortly after a controversial incident where a demonstrator was arrested for pretending to drink Roundup during a public meeting, sparking a significant disruption.

Before endorsing the program, Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve and Councilwoman Neoma Jardon expressed strong disapproval of the stunt, which led to a temporary shutdown of the Washoe County Commission chambers. However, Jardon also acknowledged the constructive efforts of other activists who contributed positively to developing the pesticide-free initiative.

The individual involved in the stunt, Ross Tisevich, faced a felony charge for dispersing what was believed to be a hazardous substance, although it turned out to be merely sugar and water.

The parks included in the pilot program are Barbara Bennett, Wingfield, Canyon Creek, Plumas, Virginia Lake, Crystal Lake, Pat Baker, Wilkinson, Raleigh Heights, Silver Lake, Whitaker, and Lake parks. Traditional pesticide use will be largely discontinued in these areas, with any necessary treatments preceded by public notifications.

City workers will adopt alternative weed control methods such as hand trimming and pulling, which are more labor-intensive but avoid the use of chemicals. Councilman Paul McKenzie voiced support for the initiative but cautioned about the potential for increased labor demands.

The shift to manual weed control is expected to require significantly more time, as highlighted by Park Maintenance Director Jeff Mann. He pointed out that other cities have attempted to manage pesticide-free parks with volunteer help, but this has often proved insufficient for consistent maintenance. Mann also mentioned Portland’s approach, which involves a formal agreement with a non-profit for volunteer weeding hours as a condition for pesticide-free status.