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Proposed anti-plant legislation

At 03:48 PM 7/18/98 -0400, Aquatic Plants Digest wrote:
>From: krandall at world_std.com
>Subject: Proposed anti-plant legislation
>Richard Sexton wrote in regards to Michael McAllister's letter:
>>My gut reaction is the boat and fishing guys are behind this.
>No, actually, Senator Fargo is working this from the viewpoint of
>environmental management.  She is correct, non-native introductions are a
>_very big_ environmental problem in this state. (and elsewhere)  Almost
>every native aquatic plant that is listed as threatened or endangered is in
>that position because of non-native introductions.

Living as I do, in an area thats mostly freshwater, with dozens of aquatic plant
species, I'm having a hard time imagining how an aquatic plant can become
endagered. Specifically, what aquatic species are endangered?

>>I fail to understand what advantage a non-native spcies of aquatic
>>plant has over a native one. Ducks won't eat non-native plants ?
>>>reptiles, and amphibians.  Fish and birds become entangled and strangled
>>>to death in the roots.  All forms of aquatic life are struggling to find
>>>precious food sources, now choked out by these weeds.
>>And this doesn't happen with native aquatic plants ?
>Many of the introduced non-natives _do_ lack the predators that our native
>species have, although the reasons are not always clear.  They definitely
>_do_ reproduce and spread more quickly.  Of course, we are talking about a
>few particularly invasive species here, not _all_ non-native aquatics.

Again, I have a hard time believeing US aniumake eat some species of mriophylum
and Cabomba but not others.

>>>           According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, exotic aquatic
>>>plants have been a major factor in the listing of one-quarter of all
>>>threatened and endangered species in the United States.  We are losing
>>>the natural heritage of plants and animals that sustain our natural
>>>world and enrich our lives.
>>Evolution in action. If a bird carries a seed from say, Africa to
>>florida 100,000 years ago, and that species becomes established
>>even if it displaces other species, this is natural, but if
>>man does it , it's not ?
>Man has increased this process by a _HUGE_ factor.  We are losing species
>on a daily basis world wide, and this is almost exclusively caused by human
>interference.  The fact that some species do spread naturally, and that
>some species do die out naturally does not give us carte blanche to
>cavalierly exacerbate the problem.

I don't equate the loss of say, 2 of the 7 species of Tiger with dead plants
in the
Charles river. Exactly what plant species are in danger there ?

>I think that the Mr. McAllisters letter fairly addresses _all_ the sources
>of non-native introductions.  Senator Fargo's office is not suggesting that
>aquarists have played a major role in these introductions, but we _all_, as
>human beings share the blame for what our species has done to this planet.
>We _all_ should share in responsible attempts to turn the tide.  For
>aquarists and even more importantly pond keepers, that means that we need
>to educate other, newer aquarists about the responsible use and disposal of
>_all_ biological material, whether we "think" there is any danger of a
>plant (or other organism) establishing itself or not.
>>Huh ? Hybrid aquatic plants ? If they hybridize and form fertile offspring
>>they were the same species. 
>That is absolutely incorrect.  MANY plant "species" are capable of
>producing fertile hybrids.

Then they are the same species. Thats pretty much the definition of species:
three generations of fertil offspring. What you have is a kline, not a species
if this is indeed happening.

>>Are we supposed to believe that a non endemic species of plant hase
>>grown, died, and filled 26 FEET of a pons in 40 years ? However
>>do these killied plants maintain an aquatic envinonment in their
>>native locale?
>That is not what the post says.  It specifically says that eutrophication
>in general causes this.  _NO_ plants can grow in such quantity without a
>heavy nutrient source.  Hardy Pond is in a very urbanized area, and has
>suffered from man-made runoff and waste water problems for close to 200
>years.  Not all the plants in the pond are non-natives, but Eurasian
>Milfoil and Trapa Natans grow explosively under these conditions.  As an
>aside, is it possible that these plants that DO become such a nuisance are
>better adapted to take advantage of high nutrient levels and therefore
>overgrow and out compete slower growing native species adapted to cleaner

You probably could eradicate Trappa by mechanical means. It might take three
years, but IMHO, it's doable. Mriophylum ? No way.

Again, the problem is excess nutrients, if you remove the fast growing
plants, *what do you think you're gonna have instead* ??!?!?

>>The problem isn' the plants, it's the sewage.
>The problem is _both_!!!!  At this point, it is actually easier to deal
>with the nutrient problem than with the invasive plants.

Sewage causes plants, not the other way around. Kill the head
and the body will die. Remove the excess nutrients, and
*what do you think will happen* ?

>>>These exotic aquatic species have no known natural enemies.  
>>Then why havn't they complete taken over the lans masses where they
>>hail from?
>Obviously they are taking about enemies HERE.  Don't even _consider_
>suggesting that they introduce non-native bugs, plant diseases etc.!<g>

What eats aquatic plants?

>>>These plants are growing and
>>>expanding in our waterways at an alarming rate.  They cover the water,
>>>preventing recreation, tangling boats and fowl,
>>>keeping fish and aquatic
>>>wildlife from food sources in these areas, and depleting oxygen from the
>>At night maybe. During the day they replenish the oxygen that the
>>sewage has taken out.
>Not really, you're thinking in terms of healthy, balanced ecosystems.  In
>really eutrophic conditions, the rotting of all the dying materials takes
>out more O2 than the plants can put back into the system.  It's not all
>sewage either.  Its people's obsession with the green lawn.  Lawn chemical
>run off is a major contributor in suburban areas.

They ae beyond help, IMO.

>>> As the increasing plant matter decomposes, the process of
>>>sedimentation accelerates, leading to impaired water quality and
>>>offensive odors.
>>Dead plants don't particuarly smell. Sewage does.
>You obviously don't have a lot of first hand experience in this climate.
>Ever smell a pile of grass clippings left to rot for a few days in hot
>humid weather?  Doesn't smell much different from sewage.  

I live in a rural area. We have plenty of grass. We have a river and
a mill pond in our backyard. By the end of the summer it's chock full
of maybe a dozen species of aquatic plants. This whole area is a huge
watershed. I go foraging quite a but. If you stick your foot in the 
muck and pull it out, it reeks, but undisturbed, there is no odor.

>>Sounds like a crock to me.
>I have read through this legislation carefully, and think it is pretty
>reasonable.  The only plant on the "hit list" that is commonly used in the
>aquarium is Cabomba caroliniana, which doesn't do well for most people
>anyway, and for which there are other, mostly easier replacements from a
>decorative standpoint.  I think it is very encouraging that the people who
>will decide which plants should be banned are people with training and an
>interest in aquatic plants.  We will _NOT_ be in the position of having
>legislators make blanket decisions on things they don't understand. (which
>is what happened in N.H.)
>You are right to look at all legislation carefully, but be _very_ sure you
>are also doing your part by not making light of these problems, and by
>educating other people to act responsibly. 

I'm not making light of it. I'm just unconvinced by the weak arguments
presented. They're laughable and fairly transparent.

Richard J. Sexton
richard at aquaria_net
Bannockburn, Ontario, Canada                       +1 (613) 473 1719