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About 40 acres of grass at the Salt Lake City Cemetery were damaged last fall when a herbicide was accidentally applied to the grounds.

The Public Services Department is working on a plan to mitigate damage to landscaping, according to a statement from City Hall. The 167-year-old cemetery encompasses about 100 acres north of Fourth Avenue and east of N Street in the city's Avenues district.

The damage became apparent recently, when maintenance crews noted areas of discoloration and yellowing turf. Analysis revealed that an employee mistakenly applied a non-selective herbicide instead of a fertilizer product in September.

The administration is moving rapidly to restore the grounds before the Memorial Day weekend, when thousands of visitors are expected.

A restoration strategy and a request for bids for making needed repairs will be issued shortly, said Rick Graham, director of the Public Services Department.

The damaged turf will be pulled up. Some areas will be seeded and others will get new turf, Graham said.

All grave sites should be accessible by Memorial Day (May 25), he said.

The city is assessing how the mistake occurred, Graham said, and will implement new requirements to ensure similar mistakes cannot happen in the future.

While actual costs have yet to be determined, estimates for repairing the damage likely will fall between $300,000 and $600,000.

In the meantime, burials will continue. The cemetery accommodates an average 450 burials annually, Graham said, and is the resting place for the remains of about 123,000 people.

Plot holders with questions about the turf repairs can contact the city at 801-596-5020.

­Christopher Smart