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RE: Calif aquatic plant "regs"

> Please forgive me, as I'm just butting in on this 
> discussion of Californian Plant Regulations...

No need to beg forgiveness.  People on this list 'butt
in' on discussions all the time, and rarely do they
apologize for such behavior.  ;)

> the idea is that until you know for certian that it 
> won't damage the environment when/if it's 
> introduced, you play it safe. 

Define 'damage.'  Do you mean 'change' the local
environment?  I don't buy the notion that an invasive
species damages the local environment simply because
it is an effective competitor and manages to overwhelm
native species that are less well adapted.

Since the beginning of life on this planet, species of
microbes, then plants and then animals have 'invaded'
habitat that was occupied by other species.  Those
other species either competed well with the invader,
or were overwhelmed and succumbed to the new regime.  

It is inconceivable to me that, when the Indian
subcontinent collided with Asia, the indigenous
species from each did not battle it out for supremacy
over the entire land mass.  In the very distant
future, the Himalayan range will have eroded, and the
species that have evolved separately in China and
southern Asia will go at it again.  These fights to
the death have occurred all over the world, time and
time again, for billions of years.

A number of different vectors for invading species
have appeared through time.  Ocean currents carried
coconuts.  Wind carried seeds.  Land bridges appeared
and allowed all sorts of invaders to cross into new
territory.  The human being is a part of nature, and
whether wittingly or not, man has also been a vector
for invading organisms.  

I daresay that man has been responsible for
facilitating 'invasions' that had far less significant
consequences than the collision of India and China a
few million years ago, or the appearance of the
Aleutian landbridge that allowed man, wolf and large
cat to invade North America.  Let's not forget the
occasional meteorite impact either, which probably
wiped out more species in one thump than all of man's
foibles, past present and future, combined.

We may not like the results of our oopses.  They may
cost us lots of money (which we *choose* to spend) and
cause enormous grief.  They can change what we liked
about the local environment and make it something we
like less.  They might even make us sick and make our
own habitat less suited for our needs.  We may not
like the changes, but that's all they are--changes. 
The 'damage' that the human animal has done to the
environment is infinitesimally small. 

> The benefits of playing it safe, while possibly
> difficult for aquatic plant importers, distributors 
> and entusiasts, greatly outweigh any downsides. 

All but a very small portion of the benefits of
playing it safe are economic, and there is always room
for debate as to whether those benefits are worth the
costs.  The same goes for repairing the 'damage' done.
 Before we restore a lake in Minnesota (or a waterway
in Florida, or a cypress swamp in Alabama, or...),
somebody needs to do a very good job of explaining why
spending all that money is a good idea.  It's not
enough to say, 'we're gonna make it like it was
before.'  It might actually be better the way it is
now.  Believe it or not, some people think Water
Hyacinth is a pretty plant, and makes Florida's St.
John River pretty in the summer, with all those violet

Likewise, an action to prevent invasion also needs to
be justified, in terms of cost and benefit.  If you
can't justify the action, then the action shouldn't be
taken, and playing it safe is not an acceptable
excuse.  Remember what the road to hell is paved with.

It's incumbent upon state and federal regulators to
quantify the costs of their actions, and weigh those
costs against the benefits in every single case. 
Assigning a "Q" rating just to play it safe is a cop
out.  It is a shirking of duty, and those with a stake
in the outcome are justified in making the state of
California explain why their actions are a good idea.

> I might describe the notion of "let's just do 
> whatever we want" as capricous and cavalier. I would

> always choose in favor of protecting our environment

> over letting a few people make a buck or satisfy a
> hobbyist's desire. 

Hobbyists express a willingness to pay for access to
these plants when they troop down to the LFS and pay
for them in an open, competitive marketplace.  The
'few people' who make a buck from selling these plants
to the hobbyists use that buck to feed their families,
not to mention their employment of labor resources and
investment in capital.  Satisfying desires and making
a buck is what America is all about--it's called free
enterprise.  It's what makes this country go, and it's
what pays the taxes that fund all these environmental
regulations that people think are so dadgummed

People who would always choose in favor of protecting
the environment should ask themselves:  "How much am I
willing to pay the hobbyists and dealers, who are
being made worse off because of my actions?"

> Thanks for listening 
> Bree in MN, land of milfoil and zebra mussels that 
> don't belong

You're welcome.  ;)

David in AL, land of Hydrilla verticullata and giant
Australian jellyfish, whose incredibly well adapted
characteristics mean that they probably would have
made it over here, sooner or later, without our help.

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