MANY people around Ocean City care about the island and its environment through a number of means – from beach clean ups to restoration projects, many plans are constantly underway in order to make the city as environmentally friendly as possible. Local Donna Moore does her part with meticulous research for advocacy against the use of pesticides in the community. Backed by thorough research, she’s fought for years to make the island of Ocean City and its surrounding environment as beautiful and healthy as can be.
What are some of the dangers of using pesticides in Ocean City?
Pesticides are so detrimental to the ecosystem. The pesticides (if sprayed) do not stay where they are. They do not stay on the target plants – they migrate. What one person does affects the immediate neighbor. Pesticides get on the edge of the land and the wind brings the pesticides into the neighbor’s airspace. The next problem is that the pesticides are ground contaminants. When it rains, they contaminate the ground and a heavy enough rain washes them into the alleyways. Then the water goes to the wetlands, the bay and the ocean. There the pesticides are toxic to the invertebrate which so many higher wetland animals depend on. It is a complex ecological nightmare.
Why did you first get into studying pesticides?
My neighbor was spraying pesticides once immediately south of me on their lands. I was sickened by them. I did not know what I had breathed so I started to do research, and the more I learned the more I wanted to learn about what I could do.
How have you presented your research to the city?
Five years ago I started with presenting information. Then I began to use visuals on boards so that the council and people in the room could see it. When speaking at council they have an abbreviated time, so it is too short to think of doing anything electronic. I think the visuals helped a lot.
Where did you get the idea to put posters on your back?
I knew that the camera in council was behind me. It was a way for me to show my information and get as much coverage as possible while maximizing my three minutes to present.
What are the results of your research so far?
The city announced in 2021 that dog parks would be pesticide free. But not youth athletic fields.
Do you have any help in your research, or do you do everything on your own?
I’ve been on my own in doing research but have people helping in advocacy. Susanne Hornick from the Ocean City Flooding Committee has always been very supportive in posting any information on Facebook and holding posters for me. The Ocean City Sentinel has always been helpful when they posted my articles. Many other people have been supportive.
What is your hope for your research?
My goal is to write my paper in a comprehensible way that legislatures and other people who might be willing to use it to make changes that protect our food, environment, and health. I’m trying to write something grounded in science but comprehensible to someone without a science background, but with a legal capability to make changes.
What is your life like outside of your research?
I have two grown sons. I paint, but I have put my painting on hold to do my research and writing. My paintings are expressions based on nature. I have studied sculpture. I also grew up dancing ballet, so my art is about form and movement and space.
Where in Ocean City is your go to place to eat?
OC Surf Cafe has a great breakfast, and I really like dinner at Mario’s. They have great homemade dinners.
What plants do you have in your own lawn?
I have trees that have been here since 1910. They were probably standing before the island was really developed. I have wild plants for ground cover. The birds love the seeds and berries the trees grow. I have a little ecosystem here.
Advice for people starting their fall lawn clean ups?
A lot of times people who use chemical pesticides put down autumn pesticides they don’t need. Often herbicides are applied every month and they do not break down in the soil. The August or September application is not necessary. Also, if a homeowner has grown native flowering plants, leave the flower heads so that the birds can eat the seeds and then cut the heads in the spring.
Find this story and more in our August magazine.