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Pesticide Use Ordinance in South Portland

Protect South Portland played an important role in mobilizing support for this ground breaking ordinance in the City of South Portland, Maine.

How did this happen?


“Bees, Bays and Backyards”, a committee of PSP, began exploring a possible pesticide ordinance in the spring of 2015.  With the help of Beyond Pesticides, a national organization in Washington, and Friends of Casco Bay, a well-known local organization, we were able to bring to a City Council Workshop session a full scale presentation of the issues involved in the use of synthetic pesticides.  Experts in the dangers that these substances pose to the health of humans and wildlife were also able to outline solutions to these threats.  Special attention was paid to the importance of protecting the many pollinators, the bees and butterflies, who make our planet fruitful.  The Council unanimously got behind the proposal to explore an ordinance that would address this issue.  Their first act was to appoint a three-person staff committee to carry out this task.


People Power at the root of what we do



  • promoted attendance at City Council meetings

  • publicized workshops for landscape professionals

  • wrote letters to the editors of local papers

  • collaborated with beekeepers and organic gardeners

  • were joined in our efforts by like-minded citizens of neighboring cities and towns


The Final Ordinance: An Adventure in Education

Based on the principle “first do no harm”, South Portland’s ordinance carries no penalties for non-conformance but relies on the good will and good sense of an informed citizenry. As a consequence the ordinance is rooted in the belief that a rich and widely distributed educational program will be of far greater use in the long run.

 For more information about the Ordinance and how to grow a healthy yard and garden, visit: 

South Portland gets Grant for Demonstration of Organic Lawn Care

To help educate our residents on our pesticide ordinance and organic lawn care, South Portland has entered into a partnership with Stonyfield Organic to create a natural turf demonstration area at Bug Light Park. 


South Portland has the honor of being the first city chosen to receive a $5,000 grant to be used towards purchasing organic inputs or landscaping equipment needed for organic management. 


On September 29 Stonyfield Organic held a “field day” at the park with educational booths, food and entertainment.  Stonyfield will also underwrite the cost of two experts from Osborne Organics and Beyond Pesticides to manage the project.

Goats Clearing Invasives

To comply with the South Portland’s Pesticide Ordinance the City’s Parks and Water Resource Departments partnered with the Pesticide Management Advisory Committee, (PMAC) and brought in a herd of 8 goats to eat invasive Japanese knotweed and bittersweet that had taken over Yerxa Park, a one acre underutilized park off the Greenbelt in South Portland.


Using the goats rather than the usual applications of pesticides to kill the invasives is in line with the city's sustainability objectives as well as being economical.  The cost of $600 to rent the goats for one week is being funded as part of the $15,000 awarded from the Community Development Block Grant Program to rehabilitate the park.


Following the goats clearing this past September, heavy landscaping cloth will be placed over the area for about 2 years to complete the destruction of the invasives. After that is completed, further work on the park will include creating a trail, establishing native plantings and placing interpretive educational signs and additional benches. 


PMAC is using this park as a demonstration project as part of their mandate under the Pesticide Ordinance to provide educational outreach to show citizens alternatives to a reliance on synthetic pesticides which are banned under the Pesticide Ordinance excepting for health and safety reasons. 


The goats are owned by Scapegoats, a business from Kennebunk.  The charismatic, adorable goats developed a following, with many people coming several times a day to watch them perform their work.  See more about the goats at Grow Healthy South Portland. 


September 7, 2016

South Portland passes pesticide ban that puts education over enforcement

SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council gave final approval Wednesday to a revised landscape pesticide ban that will be penalty-free when it takes effect but could result in fines in the future. READ MORE

Kelley Bouchard


August 19, 2016

South Portland passes first look at pesticide ban

Just as happened two years ago when it adopted a ban on “tar sands” oil, the South Portland City Council was cascaded in a quick round of applause, Monday, Aug. 15, as it adopted the first reading of its newest green policy – a citywide ban on the use of certain pesticide products. READ MORE

Wm. Duke Harrington

Yellow Wild Flowers

October 7, 2015

Portland citizens’ group proposes broad pesticide ban

A group of Portland residents has proposed what would be the strongest municipal restriction on the sale and use of controversial outdoor bug and weed killers in Maine, and city councilors will begin discussing the plan Wednesday. READ MORE

Kelley Bouchard


June 17, 2018

Pesticide bans raise question: Can we manage garden pests without chemicals?

If you squeeze the trigger on a bottle of Roundup in South Portland this summer, you’ll be breaking the law. An ordinance severely restricting synthetic pesticides on private property took effect in May.  READ MORE

Ray Routhier


 June 21, 2016

As debate over pesticides ramps up, let’s dispel a number of myths

Towns and cities nationwide are going organic in the management of land within their jurisdictions because it eliminates the use of chemicals that have known environmental and public health hazards. READ MORE

Jay Feldman and Heather Spalding


August 20, 2018

Splendor in the longer grass; no need to mow it so short

Being a good neighbor, you try to do your part to keep your property looking nice and neat, which includes faithfully mowing the lawn. You’ve always heard that if you cut the grass real short, it’ll grow better – plus you won’t need to cut it again so soon. READ MORE

Rachel Burger

dog running with toy

May 29, 2017

Smart environmentalism means letting grass grow

Now that Gov. LePage’s bill to stop cities and towns from regulating pesticides has failed (“Legislative panel unanimously rejects pesticides bill,” May 18), South Portland’s new organic land care ordinance remains in effect. READ MORE

Rachel Burger


April 12, 2018

South Portland council rejects oil companies’ request for waiver from pesticide ordinance

SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council on Tuesday rejected a request from five oil companies for a waiver from the city’s pesticide ordinance, which will restrict the use of synthetic pesticides on their properties starting next month. READ MORE

Juliette Laaka

Goat Eating

January 14, 2017

South Portland gets a herd of hungry goats to clear park of invasive weed

SOUTH PORTLAND — A herd of goats was delivered to the Pleasantdale neighborhood Wednesday morning, on an eco-friendly mission to help make a little-used waterfront park more inviting to the public. READ MORE

Kelley Bouchard

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