January 5, 2007
Invasive and native, the issue gets blurred, when we fudge definitions to suit agenda. Of course, definitions which we do not like are easily set aside. A copy of an e-mail below captures a philosophical position on invasive species. I find it interesting that the author, in obvious frustration, suggests that government agency researchers are unaware of their surroundings. I have found that trying to find common ground establishes dialogue which in turn generates forward motion.
However, I do find common ground with many of the author’s points. The public is disconnected with land management. They are mostly unaware of plants in general, not just natives. The connection between food and the plants and animals which provide the originating source is distant. The public does grasp a concept that green is good, and therefore, we have exotic groundcovers which at first meeting are deemed a good thing.
Wanting to be surrounded by the familiar is, I submit, a human condition; defining the familiar is marketing. A sense of security and serenity is a sought after ideal for life is complex and random and humanity needs a certain safe zone.
I would have found a way to note some of the success along with the failures, such as the Delaware Department of Transportation’s roadside program which encourages native and non invasive self sustaining low maintenance designs.
“There's a distinctive gap between botanists, National Parks managers and most of the rest of America. Most people are barely aware of the local native plants or exotic plants in their wildlands (sic) surroundings, because their lives almost never touch them or interact with them.
Sure, people can see the big picture, like the towering Coast redwoods, or the huge Sierran Sequoias---but what's all that stuff underneath the trees and covering all the hills of California that catches fire each year? Gee, it is almost 99.99% solid, three foot tall, exotic annual grasses from Europe!
And there's also the 490 year old philosophical concept here in North America, from 1492 to about 1982, where you never brought local native plants into your lives---everything from the front year lawn to the trees, shrubs and flower garden were all imported from some other continent, usually your own continent of origin, like Europe.
For 400+ years, we have wanted to be surrounded by what was familiar. If you are not adding parts of the local native ecosystems around your own home, how can you ever develop any awarenesses (sic) of your surroundings?
Plus, there's still a HUGE amount of RESISTANCE from some gove
rnment agencies to stop using exotic plants when planting things on their lands, and start the conversion to the use of local ecotypes of natives, like most State DOTs and the BLM in most states.
Every state DOT has an environmental division, but almost none of them are using local natives along their roadsides, and plant exotic plants each year instead.
The USDA, Agriculture Research Service and Cooperative Extension services HAVE botanists and ecologists, but unaware of their surrounding, they are still importing and releasing new exotic invasive plants for our wildlands (sic), like the new "kudzu" of legumes that has been tested to successfully invade California's rangelands, a group of 14 new
annual exotic legumes: 12 Medicago species and two Trifoliums.
The Department of Interior HAS botanists and ecologists, but unaware of their surroundings and the public lands that they manage, they are still planting each year up to a million pounds of exotic seeds onto our public lands in the Idaho, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, etc. Here's what the fall 2002 seed-buying contract looked like:
(Sol. No NAR020155, P.O. Box 25047, Denver, CO. 80225-0047) issued
8/27/2002, shows the following staggering annual amounts of exotics:
Crested Wheatgrass.......Total bulk pounds......28,200
Siberian wheatgrass......Total bulk pounds......29,200
Intermediate wheatgrass..Total bulk pounds...... 5,500
Pubescent wheatgrass.....Total bulk pounds......66,100
Russian Wildrye..........Total bulk pounds......70,000
Smooth Brome.............Total bulk pounds...... 4,300
Orchardgrass.............Total bulk pounds...... 4,400
Annual ryegrass..........Total bulk pounds......16,500
Triticale................Total bulk pounds......12,500
Alfalfa..................Total bulk pounds......47,200
Yellow sweetclover.......Total bulk pounds...... 7,100
Sainfoin.................Total bulk pounds......11,100
Small burnet.............Total bulk pounds.....128,300
Forage Kochia............Total bulk pounds......23,200
Persistent exotics being sown on BLM land......453,600
So unless this exotic-seed-tsuname isn't stopped by the State DOTs, the US Department of Interior, and the USDA stops importing and releasing new exotics, all the discussions about the importation of new exotics might become academic, when millions of acres of North America are annually being converted to weeds?"
Sincerely, Craig Dremann, Redwood City, CA