On Thursday, Jan. 26, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation recognized the city of Palo Alto, Gallo’s Sonoma Vineyards, Marin County and Sunwest Fruit Co. with 2011 IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Innovator Awards for their leadership in reducing pesticide use.

“This year’s honorees are controlling pests on agricultural crops and in parks and other public places in diverse ways that range from global positioning system mapping and iPad applications to falcons and owls,” DPR Chief Deputy Director Chris Reardon said. “Their exemplary leadership underscores their commitment to more environmentally friendly pest control to protect public health and the environment and willingness to share their practices with others.”

Cal/EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez, who attended the ceremony, said, “These honorees are all true innovators. They have each shown their dedication to finding creative, effective solutions to pest management that not only benefit the environment and public health, but are economically sound.”

Since IPM Innovator awards were initiated in 1994, more than 100 California organizations have been recognized for their efforts to reduce risks associated with pesticide use and for sharing their research and methods with others. Candidates are evaluated in seven categories: innovation, value, effectiveness, supports research, organizational education, outreach and leadership.

One of five departments and boards within the California Environmental Protection Agency, DPR regulates the registration, sale and use of pesticides to protect people and the environment. A brief description of the 2011 IPM Innovators follows:

City of Palo Alto

DPR initially honored Palo Alto with an Innovator Award in 2003 for its citywide adoption of IPM policies and progressive practices. Palo Alto is being recognized with a second award for greatly expanding its reduced-risk pest management practices to protect water quality, minimize pesticide use and apply least-toxic products when pesticides are truly needed.

The many accomplishments of the city’s parks, golf, public works and open space staff include reducing pesticide use by 45 percent from 2005; designating 12 parks and facilities as pesticide free; switching to trapping instead of poison baits for gopher and other rodent control; power-washing trees to remove tussock moth egg sacks; and extensive efforts to protect bee hives by relocating them when necessary and feasible instead of destroying them.

The city uses no spray insecticides on any property - these insecticides are the primary contributor to urban creek toxicity throughout the state. Palo Alto also was the first agency to require EcoWise certification for its structural pest control contractors - a requirement that sets rigorous standards to reduce environmental and human health toxicity.

More information, including annual IPM reports, is available on the city’s website, www.cityofpaloalto.org/saferpestcontrol or by contacting Julie Weiss, environmental specialist, at julie.weiss@cityofpaloalto.org or 650/329-2117.