Minneapolis Park Board investigating pesticide misuse allegations near Lake Harriet

The Minneapolis Park Board is looking into complaints of pesticide misuse near Lake Harriet.

The Minneapolis Park Board is investigating claims that park staff improperly sprayed and dumped pesticides in wetlands and gardens near Lake Harriet.

A former Park Board employee lodged the complaints and now the board is acknowledging the concerns. The complaints first surfaced one month ago and Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation department addressed them.

“We need more specifics,” said Jeremy Barrick, the assistant superintendent for environmental stewardship.

The board spoke out after allegations of pesticide misuse surfaced first on social media.

“We became aware of these allegations around the end of September,” said Barrick.

A former gardener lodged the complaints, accusing park staff of intentionally spraying and dumping poisonous pesticides in bodies of water in and near Lake Harriet.

“Some of the allegations are pretty significant,” said Barrick. “So we take that seriously.”

According to the complaint, the mishandling of chemicals took place at Roberts Bird Sanctuary, the Rose Garden and the Lyndale Park Peace Garden. Park gardeners are now accused of endangering wildlife and putting lives at risk.

“The timing of these things, it seems as though it’s potentially several years ago,” Barrick said. “And then what chemical and what’ the proper next step is a challenge for us.”

While investigating the claims, Barrick said more evidence is needed.

“We’ve been conducting an internal investigation, asking the questions we can of the staff that we believe may have insight and then working from there to make sure everyone knows the current practices and what we’re doing with pesticides,” Barrick said.

The Parks and Recreation Board manages more than 6,000 acres of parks, trails and open spaces. In 2018, the board created a pesticide advisory committee with the goal of using as little pesticides as possible.