DENTON, Texas (AP) — The wildlife society in Texas is urging residents to not let their excitement at the hottest event in Dinton make them ignore a warning that it could be harmful to the local environment.
The Denton-based Society for Conservation of Birds says a group of scientists from the University of Texas and the University in Florida, along with other experts, warned the event could pollute the wetlands surrounding the city.
Denton is about a 15-minute drive from Houston, which has more than 6,000 birds and other wildlife.
It’s the nation’s second-largest city and a hub for food and beverage vendors.
The Dallas Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Birds issued a warning to residents in the city, warning that the event “may cause a significant increase in pesticide residues in local waterways, soil and air.”
The group says the risk of the event is “low” if it is not handled correctly.
“We are very concerned that this event could pose a significant environmental risk,” said Bill Nadel, president of the Dallas society.
“It’s the highest-risk event of the year.”
The event is scheduled for Feb. 11 and could attract thousands of visitors.
The event could be a great opportunity to take advantage of a weekend off from the usual crowds, but it could also be harmful if people don’t follow the precautions, Nadel said.
The city says the event, which is expected to draw about 50,000 visitors, is being held in the shadow of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Nadel says he has seen people in Dental Park, Denton, downtown Denton and other parts of the city spray pesticides and other chemicals on lawns and other property, creating a chemical smell that could have serious health impacts.
Nelson said the city’s response has been to notify local residents that it is aware of the risks posed by the event and to warn them of the need to treat the event with care.
Nationally, a growing number of states are banning or restricting the use of synthetic pesticides and herbicides that have been linked to health problems.
Nadel says the city is following the lead of Denton in banning synthetic pesticides.
“We have done everything we can to make sure that people understand the risks of this event,” Nadel added.
Natalie Tromp, the city spokeswoman, said there was a plan in place to minimize exposure to chemicals and the city would have a hotline for people to call if they were worried about their health.
She said the state Environmental Protection Agency was not notified of the situation and that it was working to figure out how to protect the environment.