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Date: June 20, 2002

State and York County reach agreement for mosquito control at Grafton Ponds

(RICHMOND, VA) -- The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and York County Department of Environmental and Developmental Services reached an agreement for mosquito control at the Grafton Ponds Natural Area Preserve. After site visits and meetings with York County mosquito control officials, other local officials and Virginia Department of Health officials, a standard was determined that protects public safety as well as the sensitive natural resources at Grafton Ponds.

York County approved this standard, well within its normal operating procedure for larvicide treatment. The standard uses the county-recommended larval count of 25 or more larvae combined with water levels at Grafton Ponds, based upon a representative surveillance pond.

Larvicide will be applied to the ponds when county officials determine it is necessary under the standard. This number and methodology was based on recommendations from York County and the Virginia Department of Health.

"We have come to a workable compromise that addresses both environmental concerns and the interests of Edgehill residents," stated Jim Rindfleisch, York County Department of Environmental and Developmental Services.

DCR's initial actions resulted from raising the bar on when control would start. The department based the intent upon U.S. Center for Disease Control Guidelines and natural resources concerns.
Joseph H. Maroon, newly appointed agency director at DCR, asked his staff to revise its guidelines to ensure early prevention is a key part of plan. DCR staff has been working on this for the past two weeks.

"DCR and York County together will take preventive action that mosquito control officials deem necessary to address public concerns and safety, and meet DCR's conservation mission," Maroon said.

Because the dry year has resulted in mostly empty ponds at the Grafton Ponds Natural Area Preserve, they are not supporting mosquito larvae. According to onsite surveys by York County officials, ponds with no water don't have enough larvae to warrant applying larvicide under normal operating procedures. In other words, York County would not have treated the ponds to-date this year because of the low numbers of larvae present.

Tom Smith, DCR Natural Heritage division director, noted that previous articles focused on the connection between chemical mosquito control and endangered species. However, DCR is most concerned for the continuing functioning of the natural system. At an appropriate time, a level of mosquito control determined by technical experts serves citizens' health interests and can be accomplished while also protecting sensitive ecological resources.


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