June 17, 2014 in City, Green Local News

Spokane City Council aims to protect honeybees

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The same Spokane City Council that legalized the raising of small farm animals in March is now taking aim at protecting honeybees.

Council President Ben Stuckart has introduced an ordinance that would ban city purchase and use of a relatively new class of insecticides known as neonicotinoids.

Research is showing that those chemicals, sold as a series of products, may be harmful to honeybees.

Stuckart said he wants the city to stop using the chemicals on its properties.

He said the council does not have authority to order the parks department to stop using neonicotinoids. That is the prerogative of the Park Board.

The ordinance was up for adoption Monday night, but was delayed a week to give the mayor’s office time to assess the potential cost to the city.

Stuckart said the ban on neonicotinoids is part of an initiative to implement environmentally sustainable policies at City Hall.

In March, the council voted 4-3 in favor of allowing small farm animals on residential lots to give residents the ability to raise their own food sustainably.

Earlier this month, the council voted to require the city to give preference to products and packaging material that are free of traces of the carcinogen known as polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB.

PCBs have contaminated the Spokane River for years, and environmental agencies are pushing the local governments to clean up the problem.

According to the honeybee ordinance, six types of neonicotinoids are used as broad-spectrum insecticides that are taken up by roots and leaves to kill insects.

They are commonly used on field and orchard crops, ornamental plants in nurseries and gardens, and on trees in gardens, streets and parks, the ordinance said.

The individual chemical names are imidacloprid, clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, acetamiprid and thiacloprid. Their development dates back more than 20 years.

The American Bird Conservancy has called for a ban on the nicotine-like substances as seed treatments and for the suspension of all applications pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife, according to a 2013 news release from the organization.


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