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All across the Delaware River Watershed, townships and private landowners are using herbicides to control invasive plants on parks, trails and public lands.  And so the exposure of children, adults, pets, streams and wildlife is much more pervasive than just a single area that is the focus of a given discussion. In addition, there are many options available for controlling invasive plants to consider, including many non-toxic options.  While there is literature that touts the safeness of glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup, Rodeo and other Monsanto herbicides – there is also peer-reviewed science documenting the known and potential harms.  In addition, these herbicides contain more than their active ingredients, they also include surfactants which help the active ingredient glyphosate penetrate the outer layers of the plant so it can achieve the internal disruption that leads to death.  There is a significant body of science documenting the harms of the surfactant found in the Roundup family of products for people and valuable wildlife such as frogs and amphibians.

An Effective Strategy

In order to have an effective plan/strategy for eradicating non-native invasive plants from an area and allow restoration of a healthy native population, it is critical there be a clear understanding of what invasive plants a community is seeking to impact, coupled with a clear strategy that is known to have the greatest level of effectiveness for the species at issue, and a plan for how native species will be reintroduced in order to help prevent reinvasion of the invasives thereafter.

Communities need to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing the problem of invasive weeds and how they will accomplish the laudable goal of restoring native plants to those areas controlled by invasives.  A comprehensive strategy needs to include recommendations for private homeowners who could be an important part of the solution for the Township.

Toxic Pesticides

Pesticides are toxic and must be avoided in order to protect local streams and aquatic life. There are various types of pesticides used throughout the United States that can have harmful effects on aquatic and other life. The three major groups of pesticides are herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides.

Although pesticides are regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodentcide Act as well as the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Action, citizens must take action to prevent the further degradation that excessive pesticide use can cause on the environment. Pesticides are merely a short term solution and do not solve the problem. There are a number of methods that can be taken to ensure that public lands, lawns and gardens remain healthy and maintained without using dangerous chemicals.

The best strategy when it comes to pesticides of all kinds is to exercise the precautionary principle in your own life, if you can’t prove to yourself it is safe perhaps you shouldn’t use it.  In those limited instances when there may be an overriding reason for use, such as engaging in a native plant restoration in an area overrun but invasive plants that cannot be eradicated via any other means, be sure to do your homework.

Most recently the Delaware Riverkeeper Network has been encouraging Radnor Township, Delaware County, PA to avoid the use of herbicides on their public lands.  Herbicides should not be used as the primary mode of weed control on public lands. The unilateral use of herbicides is not an effective means for reintroducing the healthy plant life and habitats that can help keep non-native invasive plants at bay, provide wildlife food and habitats, provide beauty for those enjoying the public lands, and allow children and adults to be educated about the value of healthy native ecological systems.