Pesticides

Program Goals

The ultimate goal of the Pesticide Program is to assess the needs, risks and environmental effects of pesticides on tribal lands and educate pueblos and tribes on safe pest and pesticide management practices. The program provides outreach and technical assistance to support those Pueblos and Tribes in order to protect and restore tribal lands and environments and promote public health and safety.

Program Services

Pesticide Safety / Applicator Training

The pesticide safety training is offered in-house by OETA staff. Topics provided includes: how to read a pesticide label, personal protective equipment (PPE) selection, handling, storage, and disposal of pesticide products. This training is targeted toward the general community or other tribal programs, for example, Head Start, childcare programs, senior centers, and housing departments. Pesticide safety is an important concept for everyone to understand since many people apply their own pesticides in their homes or workplaces. Pesticide safety is a topic often covered in conjunction with discussion on other household hazardous materials or indoor air quality.
OETA partners with the New Mexico Department of Agriculture Certification and Training (C&T) Program to provide the pesticide applicator to tribes. Since most tribes do not have their own approved C&T plans, applicators must get licensed first through the state, and then apply for their federal license through EPA. A license is only required for those applicators who are applying restricted use pesticides (RUPs), but OETA recommends the training for any tribal employees who apply pesticides. While this training covers basic pesticide safety, it goes more in depth to include equipment calibration, off-target drift, categorical licensing, endangered species, identification, and biology of specific pests. These trainings are most often attended by tribal natural resource staff who are applying herbicide for invasive species control.


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Trainings / Workshops

Integrated Pest Management is the concept of using various pest management techniques including mechanical removal, habitat modification, biological control, and using chemical pest control only when necessary. The Pesticide Program can provide IPM trainings in-house, but often will reach out to EPA Center for IPM for guidance, information, or to coordinate workshops. For an IPM plan to work most efficiently, everyone in the community needs to work together to implement best management practices. Therefore, the goal of OETA is to reach as many subsets of the community as possible such as schools, food services, tribal offices, senior centers, housing departments, and residents when conducting an IPM training or workshop.


Facility Walk-through

 A facility walk-through can be conducted at any tribal facility including schools, tribal offices, and senior centers. The purpose of a walk-through is to assess the facility for vulnerabilities to pests. These are things like, missing or cracked door sweeps, window screens, standing moisture, and hygiene. The goal is to eliminate vulnerabilities as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) plan so the facility may be able to reduce the use of pesticides and potential exposure to the served community. If an infestation is found, the program will recommend that the facility manager contact a licensed pest management professional. Pictures of any findings are taken during the walk-through and placed into a report with recommendations for the facility manager.


Pest-Specific Trainings

Sometimes a pueblo or tribe will approach the Pesticide Program about regarding a specific pest. The most common pests inquired about are bed bugs, and prairie dogs.
Bed bug trainings have been developed and are offered in-house. Bed bug trainings are provided to the general community, Head Starts, childcare, senior center, and housing department staff. The training includes information on bed bug biology, behavior, and management strategies. Along with the presentation, OETA will hand out the Bed Bug Educational Packet, which was developed by the Tribal Pesticide Program Council.
In past years, OETA has partnered with New Mexico State University Extension and US Department of Agriculture to provide training on the management of prairie dogs and other burrowing rodents to community growers. The training provides information on biology, behavior, and management strategies as well. This training has been brought out to the field where participants learn to safely handle pesticides and devices to control prairie dogs. Participants learn the difference between general use pesticides which can be purchased over the counter, and restricted use pesticides which they must have a license to purchase and apply.
If OETA staff is not familiar with a specific pest, the program will seek out information or expert advice from various agencies in the region and work to develop a potential training for that community


Pollinator Awareness and Protection

 
The Pesticide Program recently established a commitment to engage in more pollinator awareness and protection activities. The program was fortunate to be offered an increase in funding over the last couple fiscal years and has begun planning to build pollinator gardens in a few tribal communities. The goal is for the gardens to act as a learning tool. The gardens will be accompanied with signage which identifies the native plant and pollinator species that may be found in the garden, as well as, tips for what community members can do to protect and promote pollinators and their habitat. For FY 20 the program partnered with two pueblos, Santa Fe Indian School, and several branches of NMSU Extension Services. to plant two gardens. In years to come, the program hopes to maintain and develop these partnerships to provide pollinator outreach to all interested pueblos and tribes served by OETA.


Agriculture Program Assistance

The Pesticide Program has recently made a commitment to working more closely with Tribal Agriculture Programs. In past years, the program worked mostly through the environment or natural resource programs; however had not received much information about pest or pesticide concerns when it comes to farming or ranching. The goal is to assess the needs of the agriculture and range programs and develop trainings, outreach materials, and other services to specifically meet the needs of the farmers and ranchers in each community. OETA can assist to facilitate peer matching between the programs to discuss management practices and concerns that may be coming down the pipeline. The OETA Pesticide Program hopes to establish and maintain strong relationships with agriculture programs for the life of the program.


Pesticide Use Assessments

Each year OETA meets one-on-one with the environmental and natural resource programs of 22 pueblos and tribes to update the strategic plan for the office. During these meetings, the Pesticide Program will conduct a pesticide use assessment. The purpose is to assess how pesticides are being handled, stored, and disposed of in the community, who is using them, whether the tribe tracks this use, and whether tribe needs additional resources such as PPE or training. The pueblos and tribes are encouraged to pay close attention to contractors who may be applying pesticides in their community and implement some sort of tracking system. If there is a change of use patterns, the Pesticide Program may offer training or outreach assistance. The program plans to add questions regarding specific pesticides of concern (POCs) or pesticides of interest (POIs) to future assessments.


Access to Information

Along with all of the other services, the Pesticide Program continues to act as a conduit for information. If a pueblo or tribe has questions regarding pests, pesticides, resources, or regulations, the program is happy to assist by researching the topic or reaching out to any of the program's mentioned partners. Any pertinent information or regulatory changes the program becomes aware of will be sent out via the email listserv, announced in the OETA’s newsletter, or posted to the OETA webpage.

Presentations