Springtime In Sacramento, Time To Spray Parks

It’s spring time in Sacramento it’s time to spray parks in Sacramento. Why does the city/county prefer to use herbicides and employ poisons rather than employ people? 

Land Park April 2022

I lived for a while on 24th Ave, one block from Curtis Park, and I logged more than a few thousand enjoyable miles on morning walks around Curtis Park.

May 2022
William Curtis Park, has been sprayed with glyphosate based herbicide.

Hundreds of Trees were sprayed around their base… seems counterintuitive, and counter productive, when one of the biggest messages during the drought goes something like this:

“Stress Your Lawn, Save Your Trees”

“Water reductions shouldn’t come at the expense of trees—that’s a major lesson we learned during the last drought.” Regional Water Authority (an organization representing 20 water suppliers in the Sacramento area) October 2021


As the drought  continues, there’s a new daily mantra; Save the Trees!

But apparently, the City of Sacramento Parks Department didn’t get the memo. 

Curtis Park was sprayed with herbicide around the first week of May, (judging by the condition of the dying vegetation) with the same glyphosate based herbicide (GBH) as William Land Park, which was sprayed April 7, 2022.

In these times, it is a ridiculous affront to the very services that trees provide.

And looking back 100 years….

Sacramento Chamber of Commerce 1920-1930:

“Trees had become a major icon for the city’s newly emerging image: “The crowning glory that is Sacramento’s, her glorious shade trees, are glorious because the city looks out for them with as much care and anxiety as a fond parent does for her offspring.” (Sacramento Bee 1939)”


Today though, trees are treated with herbicide – sprayed around and around, at the base of each and every tree. Sacramento Area Parks seem to have an affliction of ever widening spray barrens under the tree canopy.

Photos taken at William Curtis Park Thursday morning, May 19, 2022

One can go to the park, sit on a park bench, and watch the Spring emerging vegetation turn brown and die!

And most people don’t even know what’s happening, or how these tidy circles under the trees in Sacramento Area Parks occur. I didn’t until recently!

I feel an urgency to continue to raise awareness to this concern.

William Land Park, on the other side of Freeport Ave, has a similar contrary approach to the cultural and intrinsic value of City Parks and maintenance of the urban green infrastructure.

Updated May 29, 2022

Emergent Vegetation and Forage Opportunities 

Springtime is a time of new growth, new shoots, emergent vegetation, and newborns. Many forage plants (especially natives) are nutritious, but broad-leafed greens (the kind you and the wildlife probably want to eat) may be targeted for spraying.

They spray parks in springtime….

Ducks  and geese like to eat plants, but they especially like to eat them when the plants are young and tender. The bills of Canada geese are adapted for grasping and snipping new shoots of grasses, leaves, and stems.

There are a wide variety of native plants and non-native plants – called weeds – that ducks and geese will happily manage within a park. And just maybe the waterfowl won’t be so hungry for the cheap white bread fed to them by visitors to Sacramento Area Parks.



*Miner’s Lettuce




*Purple Deadnettle 

*Purslane – a highly nutritious plant sold at nurseries in the Sacramento area, and found in parks, was written about in the Sacramento Union in 1893.

*Wild Strawberries – which grow easily in neighborhoods and Parks in the Sacramento area.

*Wild Violets 

Ducks need a variety of plants and insects in their daily diets. The compounds in weeds and bugs keep them healthy giving hens the ability to lay nutritious eggs filled with a plethora of vitamins, omegas, and minerals. 

Ducks forage for slugs along with snails, pill bugs or sow bugs, cabbage worms, and more. When foraging for food among taller, well-established plants, ducks may tend to leave the vegetation alone in preference to the insects. 

As other community voices in the Greater Sacramento Area have noted:

“Spring is fast approaching. In the Sacramento Valley, that means the greens are up, trees are flowering, and very soon, young, tender leaves will be found among the vines. Sadly, this time of year is also spray-time for many… Cities and counties, school districts and parks departments, too, begin pest management programs, which often include spraying for insects as well as the plants….”


If it were really necessary to remove the vegetation around the base of trees at William Land Park, or Curtis Park, it could be done by hand. Add up the costs of the spray truck, spray equipment, gas, oil, maintenance, the cleaning required after every use, certification level required for applicator license and storage, PPE, etc., and compare that, to a few hand tools, gloves, and a crew of just a few, who spend the day in Sacramento Area Parks, taking care of the Trees!

Cultivate Culture and Nurture Nature

Tom DiFiore

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