Area students push alternatives to herbicides

AUBURN – A project by area high school students to educate the public in the proper use of herbicides and the potential risks to groundwater was presented to the Lake Auburn Watershed Protection Commission Thursday.

Cameron Parker presented the project to the commission. She is an environmental educator with the Maine Conservation Corps. The 23-year-old AmeriCorps volunteer from Minnesota is assigned to the Auburn Land Lab. Parker has worked with five students from five high schools in the Twin Cities area since November on the project to better educate homeowners about the proper selection and use of herbicides.

With Parker’s help, the students are developing an informational brochure on herbicide use, possible negative effects to ground and surface water and wells, and alternatives to herbicides that will be distributed to residents of Auburn and Lewiston this summer. It is currently in a draft stage. The information is also being posted on the Internet.

Parker said the students conducted research on a variety of topics including which herbicides are available on the shelves at local retailers and which products might be better suited to different uses.

Mary Jane Dillingham, water quality manager for the Auburn Water District and the Lewiston Water Division, explained that while herbicides and pesticides are sold as being safe, people using the products should be educated in the proper use of the products.

The findings of the students’ research will be presented to the public at the Herbicide Summit at 10 a.m., May 22, at the Auburn Land Lab, 31 Holbrook Road. Dillingham will be a speaker at that forum.

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