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RE: Noxious weeds and Rhonda's e-mails


I am new to this list, and would like to thank the participants for helpful
discussions.  I have been keeping fish for a number of years but I am new to
aquatic plants.  For my first post I would like to respond to the noxious
weeds thread, particularly to James Purchase's comments.  My undergraduate
education was in biology and agriculture, so I have a good feel for the
seriousness of noxious weeds, as we discussed in depth the difficulties in
eradication once they have established themselves, as well as the
consequences on native plant species.  (comments below)

Date: Wed, 8 Nov 2000 16:16:58 -0500
From: "James Purchase" <jpurch at interlog_com>
Subject: Re: Noxious weeds and Rhonda's e-mails

:Wow, I thought that this was the year 2000, not 1984! Reading Rhonda's
remarks about having received not one but two messages from the "weed
police" ought to cause folks to set up and take notice. While I can
understand "official" concern over the spread of potentially nuisance
species, for this concern to focus on what is obviously a HOBBYIST web site
ought to scare folks, and to get them to stand up for their rights.

==> I have to disagree here.  First of all, when you post a web page, it is
PUBLIC information, anyone and everyone can view it, the USDA did not have
to do any kind of 'snooping' whatsoever to find the site.  I am acutely
sensitive to privacy issues, however, I think that once you put yourself in
the public domain, you shouldn't be surprised (or offended) when you are
noticed.  This is akin to placing a full page ad in the local paper, only on
a global scale; anyone can stumble onto it or even search for it. That the
site belongs to a hobbyist is irrelevant to the issue; how many hobbyists
have become tired of the hobby and dumped their plants in the local stream
or lake, unaware of the harm that could result?  Not that Rhonda would do
this, but it is not far fetched.  

:Salvinia might pose a problem in some circumstances in the wild, but it IS
viable plant in an aquarium, and I can't imagine ANY government bureaucrat
telling a hobbyist that they shouldn't grow it or maintain it. 

==> I didn't read this in the letter.  They told her not to DISTRIBUTE it,
they didn't say not to grow it.

:Or for that
matter, list it on a web site as being suitable for use in an aquarium. From
looking at the listing of plants that Rhonda has for sale, and comparing it
with the official list of "weeds", I can see that Rhonda isn't selling
anything which is a "no-no". So what is their problem???

==> They didn't tell her not to list it on her website.  Their problem is
that if noxious weeds escape into the environment, they have to potential to
choke waterways and out-compete native plants, and are very difficult and
very expensive to eradicate or even control.  Examples; kudzu, Johnson
grass, purple loosestrife (sp?)

:Rhonda, I don't know how you handled the situation, but I know that while I
might acceed to an official request that I wouldn't SHIP any listed plant
across state lines, I'd tell them to get lost regarding listing the plant as
an aquarium plant on your web site, or from maintaining it in your own

==> I believe that was all they asked.

:The particular part of the official note which would gall me was -  "You
could perform a valuable service by discouraging visitors to your
website from purchasing federal noxious weeds.". This is not so subtle
pressure on you to remove it from your web site all together. From what I
can see, you aren't selling it, nor are you encouraging hobbyists to release
it into the wild.

==> I didn't interpret the letter in that way.  I understood it to mean, 'if
you discuss these plants on your website, please include the disclaimer that
they should not be released into the wild or distributed illegally. Please
make your visitors aware of the noxious weed status of certain plants.'  In
fact, it would be more helpful to the USDA for the listing of the noxious
weeds to REMAIN on Rhonda's site, with the additional information that they
are in fact classified as noxious.  Removing it entirely would not help
educate visitors of the danger of releasing these plants into the wild.
Perhaps the letter could have been worded more clearly.

:If I were you, I'd tell him to go bother someone who cared. I'd also get a
really nice graphic of Salvinia and use it as wallpaper on the web site.
Such audacity!

==> That seems somewhat petty.  All hobbyists *should* care.  I thought the
letter was intended to be educational and preventative.  Noxious weeds are a
serious matter and many hobbyists probably don't know that they are growing
noxious weeds in the aquarium.  If they do know, then they can be careful
with these weeds and grow them responsibly.

:James Purchase

==> Brian Waters
Columbia MO