1. Call to Order.
7: 00 p.m.
Directors Amoroso, Comstock, Godino, Siedman and Smith present; director Siedman presiding.
3. Welcome Remarks and Introduction of Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District Representatives, West Marin Mosquito Council (“WMMC”) Representatives, and Liza Crosse, Aide to Supervisor Kinsey (Jack Siedman, BCPUD Board President).
Director Siedman welcomed all attendees and provided a brief re-cap of the BCPUD’s historic role in the negotiation of a non-toxic approach to mosquito control in West Marin by the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vectrol Control District (“M&VCD”). He noted that the BCPUD held an advisory poll wherein more than 85% of the community voted in favor of a non-toxic approach to mosquito control. A non-toxic protocol agreement has been in place for West Marin for many years but is about to expire, so the question for the M&VCD is whether this agreement should be extended, or if it should be revised/eliminated. The purpose of this meeting is to provide a forum for attendees to express their views on this topic and for the representatives of the M&VCD to hear those views and engage in discussion.
4. Presentation re: the Non-Toxic Protocol Agreement for Mosquito Control in West Marin (Liza Goldblatt and Margaret Graham, WMMC Co-Chairs and WMMC Representatives).
Liza Goldblatt thanked the BCPUD for hosting the meeting and introduced the members of the West Marin Mosquito Council (“WMMC”) who were present. She then thanked the M&VCD Board members and General Manager, Phil Smith, for coming to the meeting, as well as Liza Crosse, aide to supervisor Steve Kinsey. Phil Smith, in turn, introduced the members of the M&VCD Board in attendance. Liza explained that she and Margaret Graham would give a brief presentation, followed by comments from the WMMC representatives, which in turn would be followed by remarks from the M&VCD representatives and then an open discussion.
Liza said that as Jack Siedman noted in his opening remarks, the purpose of the meeting is to discuss the pending expiration of the non-toxic protocol agreement and whether it should be extended, revised or eliminated. She said the WMMC focuses first on education and prevention so that citizens in West Marin can do their part to eliminate mosquito breeding sites; as a last resort, OMRI-approved products can be used in West Marin to control mosquitoes. She noted that West Marin is characterized by many waterways, endangered species, organic farms, federal and state parkland, and so forth, all of which argues in favor of using the precautionary priniciple with regard to toxic products. She urged the M&VCD to call upon the members of the WMMC to assist in outreach efforts with individuals who are experiencing repeat visits by the M&VCD to control mosquitoes. Liza urged an extension of the current non-toxic protocol agreement on the same terms and conditions. Margaret Graham echoed Liza’s call for a renewal of the agreement and noted that the original agreement was an experiment to essentially treat all of West Marin as a giant organic farm; today, nearly 10 years later, it is an exciting success story that should be continued.
Gordon White with the Point Reyes National Seashore expressed the National Park Service’s support for a continuation of the current agreement, which is consistent with its Integrated Pest Management Plan and which benefits from tremendous local support.
Karry McGrath of Marin Organics said her organization’s members are very supportive of the non-toxic protocol and want it to continue. Doug Scarpa from Turtle Island Network said his organization has major concerns about the impact of pesticides on biodiversity and salamoids in the unique West Marin enviroment; he supports a precautionary approach to mosquito control, consistent with organic farming and watershed protection. Jim Zell from the Stinson Beach County Water District expressed his district’s desire to continue the non-toxic protocol and said he hopes for improved communication between his district and M&VCD, particularly on the topic of controlling mosquitoes in septic systems.
5. Remarks by the Marin/Sonoma Mosquito & Vector Control District Representatives.
Phil Smith noted that the M&VCD reaches from the Golden Gate bridge to Sea Ranch; there are 24 trustees on the M&VCD Board, and 36 full-time staff (which increases to 45 in the summer). He said that there is significant concordance between the M&VCD and the views expressed by attendees thus far. He concurred that prevention and education are the first and best means of mosquito control, as well as the control of other vectors, such as ticks. He said the M&VCD is in a continuing dialog with the WMMC and are in agreement on many points – right now, the M&VCD is in “active listening mode” with regard to the renewal of the non-toxic protocol agreement. Steve Ayala, a M&VCD Board member, said that the WMMC is “famous” for its efforts in support of non-toxic mosquito control; as a result, the M&VCD itself is considered “out there” among other districts around the country, more and more of whom are transitioning to a less toxic and more integrated pest management control approach. He cautioned that it is important not to relax vigilance on mosquito control or otherwise allow mosquitoes to “get so out of control” that only chemical solutions will be effective to control them.
6. Discussion of Current Issues Under Consideration re: Renewal of Non-Toxic Protocol Agreement for Mosquito Control in West Marin.
Director Smith said that he is very proud that West Marin has the non-toxic protocol agreement with the M&VCD; he said it has worked well and can continue to work well due to increased awareness. He observed that “we have spread some pretty nasty chemicals in our environment for the last 50 years” and argued that a non-toxic approach now is the sustainable direction in which the country must go. Mark Butler inquired about the products currently used by the M&VCD in West Marin and Phil Smith explained each one, primarly bacteriological treatments that do not bioaccumulate, noting that they are described on the M&CD website. A brief discussion ensued about the use of mosquito fish for ponds, and the M&VCD made clear that such fish are not favored (because of the potential for them to migrate to waterways) except in contained ponds with no possibility of connecting to natural waterways.
Director Godino read an e-mail from organic farmer Peter Martinelli, who strongly supports the continuation of the non-toxic protocol; he noted there are six organic farms in Bolinas, all of which are very concerned about any possibility of decertification if non-organic chemicals are used. Organic farmer Warren Weber, who was present, expressed his support for the continuation of the agreement and said it has been a success story for more than 10 years. He suggested that this approach be applied to the rest of the M&VCD, not just limited to West Marin.
Mary Beth Brangan asked why the M&VCD has objection, if it does, to renewing the non-toxic protocol. Discussion ensued with various WMMC members explaining that certain M&VCD Board members and staff do not want a separate agreement for only a portion of the district, and certain staff want to be able use methoprene briquettes to control adult mosquitoes breeding in septic tanks. Director Comstock said that as elected representatives, he and the other BCPUD directors are responsible for the Bolinas water system and the Board has taken strong positions in several contexts against the use of toxic pesticides. He noted that the Board recently submitted comments in opposition to the California Department of Food & Agriculture (“CDFA”)’s proposed environmental impact report re: pest management. He expressed strong support for the continuaton of the non-toxic protocol. Phil Smith noted that the M&VCD is not regulated by the CDFA and the products the M&VCD uses are much more benign. He said that the M&VCD accounts for less than 1% of the chemicals used in Sonoma and Marin.
Mark Butler asked if there is any real possibility that the non-toxic protocol would not be renewed. Liza Goldblatt said that the “stalemate” has been over the proposed use of methoprene in septic tanks. The OMNI-approved product the M&VCD historically used to control adult mosquitoes breeding in septic tanks unfortunately is no longer on the market, so the M&VCD is seeking an alternative. Phil Smith explained that the M&VCD has proposed engaging a neutral evaluator to assess the risks of using methoprene in septics tanks. Director Amoroso said the BCPUD may not be able to accept septic waste at its treatment ponds from tanks that have been treated with methoprene.
In conclusion, Liza Goldblatt urged the M&VCD to commit to renewing the non-toxic protocol agreement for West Marin and enhancing communication with stakeholders in West Marin. She thanked the M&VCD representatives, the BCPUD, the WMMC members, Liza Crosse and all those present in the audience for attending this evening.
7. Community Expression.