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another dissenting opinion

>>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.

I'll go ahead and define damage.  I for one live within five minutes of a 
TVA lake (Lake Guntersville, on the Tennessee River, in North Alabama, for 
those that want an idead of how widespread this can be, from MN to AL).  The 
very same Eurasian Milfoil is here, and a problem.  Its damage is inderect, 
if competition is not damage enough.  The fact that it grows 1' per day 
(maybe more) and can in a matter of days take large pieces of water is not 
necessarily the problem, the problem is that in doing so it impedes 
navigation.  When it gets so thick it is tangling props and threatening to 
block off the main channel, it has to be dealt with in the quickest means 
available...poison.  Now, the intention is to keep the invasive plant 
thinned enough to make the lake, and rive, passable.  In poisoning the 
milfoil, however, many other plants get poisoned as well.  Then fish CAN 
(possible, not definite) suffer ill effects.  Yes, we put the milfoil there 
to begin with, and yes, dealing with it is now a bigger problem, but the 
point is to try and avoid such misshaps in the future, to learn from our 
mistakes.  The damage to the aquatic environment (in this particular 
example) is not from the milfoild directly, but from the means to control 
it.  Therefor, the presence of the milfoil is detrimental to the lake.  
Taking precautions are not a bad idea.  If they are too draconian, then 
maybe they will loosen.  I for one would give up my H. polysperma to have 
the milfoil out of the lake (though I understand that I can and do only 
speak for myself).

>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.

I hate to be overly picky on semantics, but that sort of "invasion" is 
limited to humans.  I know of no plants that have set up regimes :).  
Seriously, though, the point is not to stop the natural progression of 
things (well, my point isn't), but to limit/stop the accidental (or 
intentional?) introduction of non-native species as done by humans.  Its ok 
if millions of years have settled plants and animals into their various 
geographical locations, but the fact that it happens in nature over a 
ridiculously long period of time is no reason to condone man's actions to do 
something similar in the course of a few years.  Penguins don't live on the 
north pole not because they can't, but because there is no way to get there. 
  The same with Eurasian milfoil.  It didn't live in North America (I 
assume) because there was no way to cross that big body of salt water, not 
because conditions here weren't conducive.  Just because it happens on a 
smaller, slower scale in nature is no reason to look the other way while it 
happens on a larger faster scale by man's hand.

>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.

And, again, have taken billions of years (well, millions anyway).  By moving 
species around, we are taking the risk that confrontations will occur that 
otherwise would not, and speeding the process to those that might have.  I 
realize that in my example the whole thing is our fault (it was a river, now 
a lake, was fine, then we added milfoil, would still be ok with milfoil, but 
we poison it, etc.), but we should at least be able to say, "Look what we 
did there, let's try to remember that next time."

>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.

But man has the ability (unlike the wind and ocean) to see what changes CAN 
occur.  We aren't the same as those natural forces, we are rational, 
thinking creatures that SHOULD have to forsight to think these things 
through, if not the first time, then at least in subsequent similar 
situations.  We've seen enough that we shouldn't be unwitting agents of 
invasion again, and I think that is probably the reasoning behind the 
California list (although maybe not, maybe they just don't like aquatic 
plants, who knows why law makers do the things they do?).

>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.

And those were all things that we couldn't control (landbridge, IMO not bad, 
meteorite, before our time).  The introduction of non-native species to 
areas inhabited by man IS something that we can control.

>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. Infinitesimally.

Well, I won't argue the size, as I tend to agree.  The fact that there is 
any damage at all, however, is all I personally require for justification.  
One problem is enough to make me want a correction (maybe I'm just anal).  
As another example, say there is one death per year because of tripping over 
one particular crack in the sidewalk and falling into traffic.  Now, that 
little bit of sidewalk is infintesimally small in relation to all the 
sidewalk in the world.  That death may also be infintesimally small compared 
to all the annual deaths in the world.  But, IMO, since it is one we can 
forsee it is one that must be fixed.  Patch that one piece of sidewalk, and 
you really haven't done much for improving the sidewalks of the world.  
Stopping that one death and you really haven't done much to stop world wide 
death.  But, you have done something.  Size doesn't matter in this case.  
Ok, the examples were a quite stretched, but the point is that if we can 
avoid mistakes, even relatively small ones, why not?  At the very least it 
is good practice for avoiding the big ones.

>>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

I agree entirely here.  Different, even by man's hand, is not necessarily 
bad (I like having a lake here, and I wouldn't want the river back...though 
that was well before my time).  Just make sure that WHEN you can see the 
changes that MIGHT happen, you do plenty of research into how ALL those 
changes will affect thing, good, bad, and indifferent.  Since we have Bree's 
example and my example, and mine is negative (I assume Bree's to be as well, 
since it prompted this message), then that is something to consider in 
conjuction with the California list.  If, after research and discussion, it 
is found that most of those plants wouldn't have the negative impact on 
California waterways that milfoil has had here (and I feel fairly certain 
that if such research was done the list would dissappear, or shorten 
significantly) then no one will have any worries.  Hobbiests keep their 
plants, environmentally paranoid types keep their waterways clear of plants 
that will negatively impact the environment (in whatever ways, economically, 
aesthetically, whatever).

>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.

Well, I really don't have any idea what the cost would be, but I imagine 
that making a banned plant list and passing it around wouldn't be terribly 
expensive. IF that is deamed necessary.

>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 can see how it would be a shirking of duty, but it could also be a way of 
saying, "We don't have enough information YET, so this is what we are doing 
in the mean time.  As soon as we have all the facts to consider, we will 
change/eliminate this list."  As long as the list is a temporary fix to a 
problem that is currently being investigated, I see no trouble.  For two 
months (I know, nothing in politics works that fast) you can't import H. 
polysperma, but then they find that it is "safe" (whatever that would mean 
to them) and you can buy it again.

>>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

Only one way of looking at it.  I for one don't think that "making a buck" 
is what America is "all about."  Now, lots (maybe most) are, but not 
everyone.  If money can be important to some, so can preservation of a 
species of plant, fish, bird, whatever.  It isn't the only thing that makes 
the country go, it is just an easy way to justify almost anything.

>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?"

I disagree.  If that were the case then hobbyists and dealers would always 
have to ask what they would pay the environmentalists who would have their 
ideals trounced because of their actions.  Neither should happen.  There has 
to be some middle ground (and in the case of the California list that 
started this whole thing, I personally think that the middle ground would 
erase that list as an extreme attempt at controlling something that probably 
isn't a problem. If the law makers would do the research, they'd probably 
come to the same basic conclusions as all of us...don't ban those plants).

>>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.

Cameron in AL, though farther north where Eurasian milfoil and some sort of 
Hydrilla (verticullata if David says so) are the most talked-about invasive 
species, and probably would not have gotten here without our help

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