Residents petition National Park Service to stop using chemical spray in Rock Creek Park

Signs are up in Rock Creek Park near the D.C-Maryland boundary, warning people to stay away because the area is being treated with chemicals to control an invasive plant species.

A group today delivered petitions, asking the National Park service to stop using a chemical treatment called Rodeo and consider an alternative way of controlling the plants.

"We are not saying they should do nothing. We should do something to get rid of this bad plant, but it shouldn't be this treatment with Rodeo," says Alan Cohen, the president of Safe Lawns for DC Kids and Critters.

Julia Randall was one of four founders of Friends of Rock Creek in 2005. She lives nearby and uses the park almost on a daily basis.

Randall says she's been trying to get the park service to change the type of chemical they use, but has had no success. So they've collected signatures and today delivered a petition.

"It's time to take a stronger stand and see what I can do about this," Randall says. "These toxic chemicals should never be used around people and companion animals."

Kristina Catto has been using the park for 18 years.

"I have seen the impact of the chemicals on the park," Catto says.

Carolyn Klamp says her puppy Kaya loves to sniff everything along the trail

"I thought it'd be several feet off the trail anyway," Klamp says.

Park officials released this statement:

Invasive plant management in Rock Creek Park follows the National Park Service’s nationwide Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policies. The park selected the most effective, lowest risk strategy for managing invasive, non-native plants. This included the application of glyphosate-based products in the park, followed by periodic evaluation of the treated areas to determine if objectives have been achieved. Herbicides are used as part of an IPM strategy when other options are not feasible or acceptable. Rock Creek Park and the National Park Service follow all EPA label requirements, as well as all federal law and National Park Service policy, in the use and application of herbicides.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center, a cooperative program between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, no evidence has been found of endocrine effects in humans or other mammals when the product is used according to EPA label specifications. Some laboratory based studies show possible negative effects of these products when consumed in large quantities and in concentrated forms. These studies were primarily conducted in labs where animals were given large doses of the chemical, in some cases every day. This is not comparable to use in Rock Creek Park where a 1 to 1.5 percent solution is applied to spot treat invasive vegetation. The EPA has determined certain glyphosate-based products are safe for application in and near water sources, but Rock Creek Park does not apply these products directly into the water.

Active treatment areas are signed to notify the public and the product is dyed blue to indicate its use. When visitors follow park laws and, stay on trails and keep pets secured on a leash, there is little if any chance someone or their pet would inadvertently come in contact with treated vegetation prior to the vegetation’s absorption of the products active ingredients.