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RE: Environmental concerns

> Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000 12:40:17 -0500
> From: Karen Randall <krandall at world_std.com>
> Subject: Environmental concerns
> That is _no_ excuse for citizens to allow poorly written legislation to be
> passed if they can help it.   The last thing we need anywhere in this
> country is more unenforcible laws.

You are very right, and I agree it is no excuse. Unfortunately the political
climate sometimes produces such laws in spite of what would seem the more
practical approach. The danger is for people to ignore the purpose and trash
the laws regardless of how they are used.

> BTW, I know Sue personally, and I know that much of what she wrote is
> tongue in cheek.

My apologies. Unfortunately, tongue in cheek or not, they echo what I have
heard from others who were not so tongue in cheek.

> I have written about this before.  I have found, at least here in MA that
> the PTB have been very receptive to hearing from ALL reasonable parties.
> They don't want to shut down the aquarium hobby, they want good ideas on
> how best to protect our water ways. (although in many cases it's much too
> little, much too late)

My connection to the noxious weed control board here in Washington is both
as a native plant steward and as a nurseryman. I have heard both sides, and
have had similar experiences to yours here. The folks hired to 'control'
these weeds are a drop in the bucket compared to the problem. They use their
time as best they can. This often means a good portion of their time is
spent in education. Unfortunately, nothing will work like hands on control,
both active weeding, and unfortunately prosecuting people when necessary. I
am not advocating that the weed control folks go after hobbyists growing
these plants, that would be rediculous. But Retailers, and especially
wholesalers who have had ample warning, but still trade in these plants as
far as I am concerned are fair game.

> And what do you think stopping the sale of these same plants is going to
> accomplish?  They are ALREADY in the wild, ALREADY being moved from water
> system to water system by sports fisherman and boaters.  I'm _NOT_ saying
> it's OK to do this, but do you _really_ think it makes much difference
> whether a misguided Florida hobbyist buys a water hyacinth and
> tosses it in
> the nearby pond?  The pond is _already_ lousy with the stuff.
> Unfortunately, you are right.  Education isn't going to solve the problem.
> Neither is banning these species.  They are already here, and I doubt we
> will _ever_ be rid of them.  What education _can_ prevent is the
> introduction of some NEW speicies that we aren't already afflicted with.

Stopping the sale of these plants hopefully reduces the number of places
they may be carried to. You are right, it may already be a losing battle in
some areas, but these laws have to start somewhere. Often before a weed can
get state or federal funding for control (money for weed pulls, herbicides,
or even simple studies to find out how much of a problem they are), it must
be on the list. That these plants are present on the list means that they
have become a big enough problem somewhere that they need to be controlled.

It sometimes seems that the only time the general public pays attention to
environmental concerns is when they are legislated. I seriously doubt if
this legislation was not in place if we would even be having this
discussion. That in itself is part of why the legislation exists. To get
people to think. Your suggestion to educate the LFS to try and educate the
public not to throw unwanted plants (or fish, cats or anything else) into
parks and streams is an excellent one. This should be standard knowledge.

The designation of noxious weeds is slowly changing. Until recently, weeds
were designated after they became a problem. Botanists are only just
beginning to understand what makes a plant a potential noxious weed. I love
plants. I hate to see a favorite be designated as a weed as much as the next
guy. But I hate even more the thought of being one of those that promoted
the next Euraian Millefoil or Purple Loosestryfe.

Our wetlands are our most delicate ecosystems, some of the most easily upset
ecosystems we have. Many have already been degraded in ways we may never
understand. Invasive weeds, whether ones we have identified or not, are a
serious problem. Educating people about the role they play in protecting
these ecosystems is always the best way to protect them. But sometimes that
is not enough. We still need to support the control of species that are
overly aggressive. Control is kind of an umbrella term, it includes the
education, but also research to understand why a plant is so weedy, hands on
weeding or habitat modification, may include the introduction of insect or
other herbivorous or biological control, posting signs warning boaters and
urging them to clean their boats before they transfer weeds from one system
to another, and even some prosecution.  Any one of these approaches alone
will fail.

I think we are basically in agreement, so I don't want to argue about this.
I simply want people to understand that these laws serve a very real
purpose. Scientists would not have pushed for this legislation if they
didn't think it was necessary. In a region where Salmon, a cultural symbol
for many Northwesterners (not to mention a traditional source of income for
whole communities), are now on the endangered species list, these issues are
very close to home. I could give you a luandry list of a dozen exotic weeds
that are impacting directly or indirectly Salmon through the wetland
ecosystems of the region. If these laws stop one or two more weeds from
becoming a problem than I am all for it.

Brett Johnson
Green Man Gardens
bnbjohns at home_com