OLYMPIA – The bumper crop of dandelions on the Capitol Campus may irk some Senate Republicans but a group that supports organic efforts to control weeds is collecting signatures for an online “Thank You” to the grounds crew.
“It was surprising that they would have leveled this attack to a staff that was working so hard and that had been subjected to budget cuts,” said Megan Dunn of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides.
Last month, during the last week of the Legislature’s regular session, Republicans on the Senate Ways and Means Committee spent about 25 minutes of a budget hearing questioning state officials in charge of the Capitol grounds crew about the spread of dandelions and other complaints they had about the upkeep of the 483-acre campus.
One senator offered to bring his own equipment to spray the dandelions and another offered to bring her riding lawnmower and have her husband cut the grass.
Representatives of the Department of Enterprise Services, who said their staff and budget were cut during the recession, explained they were using more organic methods with fewer pesticides, partly to save money. The dandelions would be reduced over time, they said.
The center, a non-profit with operations in five Northwest states, promotes alternatives to herbicides and other chemicals. Dunn said she worked with the grounds crew in 2014 to develop more sustainable treatment of the lawns, which are being tested on different areas around the campus.
The primary reason for the proliferation of dandelions this year is not the lack of spraying, but the compact soil and heavy rains that have delayed mowing, she said.
The center plans to collect signatures on its online card until next week, and then deliver it to the grounds crew. The card, which as of Tuesday afternoon had 349 signatures, also has a cover featuring artistic representations of dandelions.