Experts in landscaping and its impact on the environment will hold a panel Monday at the library, giving community members a chance to learn about — and weigh in on — how best to care for private and public land around Teton County.
As the region’s human population grows, so does its potential to harm the surrounding water and wildlife. For example, using large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides can alter rivers and streams. Carlin Girard, water resources specialist with the Teton Conservation District and one of the panelists, argues proper landscaping is a simple step that anyone can take to lessen environmental damage.
“I’ve never heard a meaningful conversation at a community level about the cumulative effect of landscaping practices,” he said. “That is something that’s occurring all over the country, and we’re not leading the charge. We’re trying to start that conversation.”
Girard will be joined on the panel by Parks and Recreation Parks Manager Andy Erskine and Lesly Beckworth, landowner program coordinator for the Teton County Weed and Pest District.
Erskine will give an overview of the department’s current practices and delve into its plans for improvement. Beckworth will explain the differences between invasive and native species and the benefits of a more strategic and comprehensive landscaping strategy. Girard will explore the connection between landscaping and the health of watersheds and wildlife.
Seeking a balance between maintaining attractive, manicured spaces and protecting the environment doesn’t require much of a sacrifice, Girard said.
“We can do a better job of reducing our impact on land and water and wildlife by adjusting our landscape practices,” he said. “And the beauty of it is, it doesn’t mean you can’t have the lawn you want.”
He said people generally seem onboard with reconsidering their own practices when they don’t align with what experts recommend. He cited the Trout Friendly Lawns Program, an initiative that more than 100 individuals and a handful of businesses and nonprofits in Teton County have joined to minimize water pollution.
That community buy-in is critical, he said, because solving the problem will have to be a team effort.
“When it comes to this topic,” he said, “there’s a very broad group of people that needs to be engaged to really have a meaningful effect.”
Parks and Recreation also launched a landscaping survey last week and quickly received nearly 150 replies. The survey can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/y2tt498k.
The survey asks people how they use public parks, how they want Parks and Recreation to manage those spaces and what the highest priorities ought to be. The survey also asks how people feel about the status quo for landscaping in parks and about how much fertilizer, water and chemicals landowners use on their own property.
The landscaping panel will begin at noon Monday in the Teton County Library’s Ordway Auditorium.