Friday, January 30, 2009

Alaska and Invasive Species

Back from Alaska, and two talks given, the first: “The Rise of Ornamental Invasives, A Landscape History”; the second, “Sustainable Landscape, an Alternative Paradigm for Tomorrow” The second is on this weblog without of course the verbal assault on the senses, the comic relief and the timing which comes when I present, but the important things are there.

Alaskans are grappling with some of the same challenges the lower 48 faced and mostly lost. Is Lythrum really invasive in Fairbanks? How cold is too cold for Russian olives, or, more precisely, Alaska is different, our climate will protect us. How can we square the circle of toxic chemical control prohibition versus acres of Canada thistle? My flowers never seed, how could they possibly be invasive if they after twenty years have no seedling about? Where is the science?

My suggestion to Alaskans is to find Alaskan solutions to Alaskan problems but do not ignore the history of the outside rest of the United States. Learn from our successes and our failures, choose what will work in Alaska for Alaskans devising an Alaskan plan. I fear that climate change will overwhelm and change the dynamics of the ecosystems in place now. I told them that they must decide whether it is better to have a salmon run filled with purple loosestrife or with salmon. Alaskans must decide if Marylanders will come to Anchorage to see streams of Lythrum or runs filled with salmon. It is not my place to make this choice, but theirs.

My second trip within a year, I hope I can come back again soon!

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