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CU- Boulder’s Bold Move

It began in 2002 with an integrated pest management policy. Now the University of Colorado- Boulder is making its boldest move yet. Frank Bruno, Vice Chancellor for Planning and Administration, announced that it will be phasing out its use of herbicides on campus fields, and instead treating grounds with a more natural “compost tea,” a liquid that can be used as both a fertilizer and to prevent plant diseases.

Toxic pesticides being sprayed near family housing units, environmental and health impacts, as well as threats to the honeybee population prompted student leaders to voice their concerns to administration.

Dan Omasta, a recent graduate, was the campus’s Sustainability Director. “The student body is very proud of the university’s decision to continue its legacy of progressive sustainability leadership and supports the timely transition away from harmful toxic pesticides,” Omasta said. “By incorporating more organic approaches that help to build turf health and prevent weeds in the first place, CU has the opportunity to demonstrate that there is no need to spray ourselves with poison in order to maintain a green lawn.”

The first phase would reduce the use of herbicides on turf areas by 45 percent in 2011 over the quantities used for the 2009 growing season. The second phase would scale down synthetic herbicides on turf areas by 93 percent in 2012 over the 2009 figures.

By the end of 2012, all turf areas will no longer receive synthetic herbicide applications — except for those areas that are extremely difficult to manage. Campus officials say that’s about 7 percent of the total turf area.

The final phase includes eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides, which includes herbicides for turf, in all landscaped beds. After the 2016 growing season, no synthetic pesticides will be used for landscaping.

To help with the transition will be Chip Osbourne, founder of Osborne Organics, who has more than a decade of experience in creating sustainable athletic fields and landscapes.

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