IFB urges farmers to be aware of sensitive natural areas

With pesticide applications already under 'a magnifying glass,' IDNR posts map highlighting threatened and endangered species.

By Kay Shipman

Cr _Conservationist _Morgan County _04_17_106

Illinois Farm Bureau last week provided members information about a new Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) map denoting sensitive sites and encouraged farmers to meticulously read and follow pesticide labels.

During a webinar, Lyndsey Ramsey, IFB associate director of natural and environmental resources, warned pesticide applications will be under “a magnifying glass” after the Illinois Department of Agriculture received more than 400 pesticide misuse complaints last year.

IDNR posted an interactive map that outlines areas with unspecified threatened and endangered species, Illinois Nature Preserve Commission sites, state natural area inventory sites and IDNR owned and managed property. Visit dnr.illinois.gov and search for “Chemical-Drift-Awareness Areas.”

“I encourage you to go to the map and see the sensitive areas around you,” Ramsey advised webinar participants.

Ramsey illustrated the breadth of areas marked on the map by highlighting the state natural area inventory sites. Those sites include more than 1,400 locations totaling more than 400,000 acres of public and private land.

Under state law, both IDNR and the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission have authority to protect these sites, Ramsey noted. State law prohibits harming of any tree, shrub or natural area in any state park or parkway, she added.

Related: IDNR, partners to monitor for suspected herbicide damage. Read more here.

IDNR’s conservation department has authority for the state’s threatened and endangered species program, which includes all federally listed species as well as any state-specific ones.

Ramsey urged farmers and other pesticide applicators to pay particular attention to product labels, which are considered legal documents. A label includes all printed material, such as leaflets, flyers and any material attached to the product.

“The label is the law,” Ramsey stressed. “Some labels have language about natural sensitive areas and sensitive/susceptible crops. Some labels have application limitations and record keeping requirements and require you to consult with registries.”

Related: The webinar is available for viewing by visiting ilfb.org/pesticides

Such a registry may include FieldWatch/DriftWatch, an interactive state website with pesticide-sensitive crops and bees and contact information, according to Ramsey. IDNR’s new natural resource map may serve as another registry. “It (the IDNR map) is a resource as you plan your pesticide applications,” Ramsey advised.

She continued some pesticide labels specify wind direction restrictions, so applicators may need to record that information. “Regardless, comply with every step on the label,” Ramsey said.

With pesticide plans and applications, farmers also need to be aware of other sensitive areas, including Illinois Department of Transportation rights of way and local parks.

“Be aware of all the neighbors you have in 2018,” Ramsey said.

IFB continues to discuss issues with IDNR and is compiling farmers’ questions to forward to the agency, Ramsey said. “We want everyone to be aware of it (the new map) before field season,” she concluded.

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