EPA's Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program (PESP) has selected the Almond Board of California and Chris Heintz, director of production research for the board, as one of 16 “PESP Champions” for 2003. The PESP is a voluntary EPA program that forms partnerships with pesticide users to reduce the health and environmental risks associated with pesticide use and implement reduced risk strategies.

The board was selected as a result of research efforts it has championed over the past several years that have led to an industrywide reduction of pesticide use in almonds and more emphasis on alternative biosensitive integrated pest management (IPM) practices. “Your activities truly exemplify the essence of PESP,” commented J. Stephen Morrill, acting chief for the Environmental Stewardship Branch, “Moreover, we applaud you for your personal commitment to risk reduction.” Also recognized were the board's extensive research projects which have placed emphasis on the importance of growers monitoring their orchards for pests.

The Almond Board has formed the Almond Pest Management Alliance, an industry partnership which has been funded by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The preliminary results from this five-year effort show that extensive orchard monitoring is key to success in controlling key pests and disease and that reduced risk practices appear to be controlling pests below economic damage levels.

The “Champions” were selected based on their outstanding efforts promoting IPM and toward advancing reduced risk strategies. They are also being honored for their extraordinary level of commitment to protecting human health and the environment.

The PESP Champions employed most or all of the following IPM strategies to reduce risks associated with pesticide use: sampling to accurately determine pest population levels; training and demonstrating IPM practices; employing cultural practices such as crop rotation or removing food and habitat for structural pests; controlling or managing pests through biologically-based technologies; applying less toxic or reduced-risk pesticides such as insect growth regulators; and using conventional pesticides only when absolutely necessary.

PESP was established in 1994 with 16 charter members and today has over 130 members. Additional information regarding the PESP can be found on the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/oppbppd1/partnerships/pesp.htm.