Rusty Sauls, Pesticide Compliance Program, Washington State Department of Agriculture

Forest landowners in Washington State are always working on the best solutions to maintaining a healthy forest, and constantly monitoring their forests to stay one step ahead of any issues that arise – including pests. Whether you are trying to control an intrusive weed or an insect whose population numbers are increasing, the most effective pest management approach is a combination of biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of practices, and the use of pest/disease resistant tree species. This approach is referred to as integrated pest management (IPM) and uses pesticides only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, with the goal of removing only the target organism.

Once you’ve determined that pesticide use is warranted and chosen the chemical to be used, there are several things that you’ll need to be aware of:

  • The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) requires that records be kept for each application of a pesticide (WAC 16-228-1320). Recordkeeping forms are available on the WSDA Compliance Activities website.
  • If the product you want to apply is a restricted use pesticide, you or your employee must be licensed as either a private or commercial applicator licensed by the WSDA. A Private Applicator applies or supervises the application of a restricted use pesticide on land owned or rented by her or her employer for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity (including forest products). Commercial Applicators apply pesticides to the land or property of another and generally need to be licensed in agricultural weed, insect, disease and aquatic pest control categories. Click here for additional information on licensing categories and their descriptions or call Margaret Tucker at (360) 902-2015.
  • Today, most applications on private forest lands are conducted by Commercial Applicators. A majority of those applications are done by either helicopter or back pack. Helicopter (aerial) applications allow applications to larger areas, while back pack applications allow workers on the ground to make spot applications.
  • Applicators also must provide protections for their employees and, in some cases, for themselves. For pesticides with labels referring to the Worker Protection Standards (WPS), the requirements for safety training, notification of application, use of personal protective equipment, entry restrictions, decontamination procedures and supplies, as well as emergency medical assistance are documented in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 40, Part 170.

Regardless of the pesticide you decide to use, make sure you choose the best product, and that it is applied safely at the proper rate and timing.