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RE: Re: Illegal plants...

Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000 10:50:28 +0000
> From: Susan <snotabby at earthlink_net>
> Subject: Re: Illegal plants...

> Scary isn't it? At this rate we'll only be able to legally obtain plastic
> (gasp!) plants.

Highly unlikely. For one thing, the definition of 'Noxious' includes the
fact that NATIVE plants are not and never can be considered noxious weeds.
This is true across the country, so any plant native to your state is
automatically exempt in the very definition. And while the definition and
plant lists vary from state to state, it is to my knowledge standard that in
the definition is usually a reference to the plant's ability to spread into
the landscape (i.e., become 'noxious'). In other words, if Echinodorus
species will not survive the winter, they will not  be considered noxious
weeds in your state. A perfect example of this is Water Hyacinth, which is
definitely a noxious weed in Southern and Western States like Florida and
California, but not in Northern States like Washington and New Jersey.
Legally, a New Jersey seller can sell Water Hyacinth to customers in
Washington, but not to those in Florida or other States where it is an
official Noxious Weed. If you have visited or seen pictures of the
Everglades recently, you'll know why this is of such huge concern.

> I can see it now. We'll be standing in dark alley ways with bags
> of aquatic plants tucked under our raincoats, looking nervously over our
shoulder for
> any signs of the Plant Police as we utter; "Pssst...want to buy some
> ambulia? How about an Echindorus or a Crypt?" Sure this scenario sounds a
> little ridiculous, but would you want it to become reality?

A funny image, but highly unlikely. Most of our aquarium plants are not well
enough adapted to American Waters to become a problem, except perhaps in
parts of the south and west where the Water temps are close enough for the
plants to adapt. And in many of these places, the hobby is already starting
to include plants native to these areas. These laws are only likely to
affect those plants that are so adaptable and hardy that they pose a real
threat to the states waterways. Cabomba, Millfoils and now Hygrophylla are
classic examples of these, as are the Salvinia sps in the link.

> Depending on how the laws are written, interpretation of those laws could
> mean _ANY_ aquatic plant could be considered noxious--like the
> laws written
> in my home state of New Hampshire. From what I remember of it, not only do
> they specifically name a few species, but the language includes
> something to
> the effect of "any non-native aquatic vascular plant".

Few states interpret these laws so broadly, even if they are so poorly
written so as to allow it. For one, there are too many pressures against
this kind of legislation to allow it. In many parts of the country, it is a
wonder that these laws are even being passed. Agriculture, the Landscaping
and Nursery Industries, even Ranching interests are all fighting over the
legislation, in many cases both for and against various parts of it. In the
meantime, plants like Kudzu, Eurasian Millfoil, Ivy and Cheatgrass are
tearing up the natural ecology so that endangered animals from Bison to
Salmon have trouble making it with the few natural resources left to them.
By all means, get involved, but as a Washington Native Plant Steward, let me
ask that you please be reasonable.

> So for me, just about all the aquatic plants that are in my house are
> illegal for me to keep or grow. I understand and agree with the need to
> protect our waterways. IMO most people haven't got a clue that releasing a
> plant (or animal) in an area that it is not indigenous to could
> destroy the
> habitat.

Washington State, from what I hear, has some of the best laws and
enforcement of Noxious weeds in the country. I can tell you from my
perspective as a native plant steward and one who is familiar with our
states laws and the enforcement of them that the harshest punishment you can
get here is a hefty fine, unless you are trading in a huge amount of weeds.
What you do in your own aquarium is not likely to catch their attention.
Your LFS, or online shops trading in these weeds, they are the ones most
likely to get prosecuted. I don't know what Arizona Aquatics has in mind by
offering Federally Listed weeds, but it sounds like playing Russian Roulette
to me. I don't know what the laws actually are in your state, but I find it
very hard to believe they would go after your aquarium plants.

> Education not enforcement is what's really needed here.

The situation is far too advanced for simple education to cure it. We have
introduced far too many noxious weeds to simply pass on their control. If
you value your states natural resources, land or aquatic, then please take a
second look.

Write your local,
> state and federal government to find out what they are up to. Get involved
> in your area. I wish I knew about this before it happened. But I have only
> myself to blame, and my shades to pull to keep the Plant Police out of my
> house.

Very true, and the first thing to do is to educate yourself on the noxious
weeds in your state. Every state has its own list, plus there is a federal
list. Information on the federal list can be found at;


Before you get into hysterics over the control of noxious weeds, please take
the time to talk to your local Noxious weed control board (which should be
linked to the state or county Parks Department or Department of Natural
Resources.) Most states also have a Native Plant Society that would be more
than happy to give you another perspective on the problems associated with
noxious weeds. Or simply volunteer in your local national or state park,
most of which now regularly sponsor weed pulls. Literally Millions of
dollars are spent each year trying to control invasive alien species, both
plant and animal. This legislation is designed to try and do something about
the spread of these plants.

Brett Johnson
Green Man Gardens
bnbjohns at home_com