Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District

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Update on Gopher Abatement

Friday, March 3, 2017

Gopher Abatement Program Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Dear Parents and Staff,

On Monday, February 27, 2017, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District administration communicated with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR) regarding gopher abatement programs. District administration also sought information and guidance regarding alternative, non-chemical gopher abatement  solutions.

In an effort to provide clarity, please note the following information:

  • District staff has communicated with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR).
  • District staff is in the process of researching alternative, non-chemical gopher abatement programs.
  • All District gopher abatement programs have been suspended.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dear Parents and Staff,

On Friday, February 24, 2017, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District notified the licensed contractor to suspend the gopher abatement program.  The District will work with community stakeholders and state agencies to discuss and review current practices, approved methods of treatment and products to address the gopher problem at school campuses.

In an effort to provide clarity, please note the following information:

  • The PVPUSD gopher abatement program has been suspended.
  • Parents receive annual notification of the use of pesticides in PVPUSD schools as a requirement of the Healthy Schools Act of 2000.
  • The products used in the gopher abatement program are on the California state approval list.
  • The gopher abatement program does not spray chemicals on grass or field areas. The application is underground.

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Friday, February 24, 2017

Dear Parents and Staff,

Maintaining safe and healthy classrooms, school buildings, and grounds is a very high priority in our school district. In addition to regular maintenance and repairs, we also engage in routine pest control. At the beginning of each school year all parents receive an annual notification pursuant to the Healthy School Act of 2000 informing them of all pesticides that may be applied during the year.

One of the pests we regularly have to deal with are gophers. Gophers can make a playground field unusable if left unchecked. In the short term, holes emerge that can lead to injuries. In the long term, grass will not grow in large areas.

Over the Presidents Day holiday weekend when school was not in session, pesticides were applied at several schools to deal with this problem. Notices were posted that this had occurred. Unfortunately, the wrong notices were posted and some parents called the schools with concerns and questions about the process. Notices for liquid herbicides that are applied directly to the surface of fields and gardens were posted and not the standard notice for gopher control.

Our licensed contractor (RPW Services) posted the notices February 18 and applied the chemicals on February 20. RPW Services has acknowledged that the notification they posted was confusing.  The wording of the posted notice said “Do not play on the treated area” and “Wash your hands and exposed skin if you touch the treated area.” Students and visitors could not have come in direct contact with the pesticides that were applied. Typical application for gopher control is through underground fumigation, not above ground.  For the chemicals used to control gophers, entry into the playing areas is acceptable as soon as the technician leaves.  The only restriction for field use is during the actual application of these chemicals.

All safety procedures were followed during the application process. The gopher control chemicals we used are approved by the Department of Pesticide Regulation (the agency responsible for approving pesticide use in California). Those chemicals were Fumitoxin (active ingredient: Aluminum Phosphide) and Gopher Getter 2 (active ingredient: Diphacinone). 

We apologize if the mistaken notices caused any undue alarm to parents or students. Our fields are safe and, hopefully, gopher free so our students and community can enjoy using them in the months ahead.