Are Herbicides the Right Way to Remove Non-Native Plants? Letter Writer Argues Against Park Service Plan
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The National Park Service wants to use herbicides to destroy non-native plants. Uri Driscoll, who wrote the following letter, wants those against the use of poisons should go to a public comment meeting hosted by the Park Service and express their opposition.
Here’s his letter:
The National Park Service has come out with a draft plan in an attempt to address non-native invasive plant species. The proposal largely stems around the intention to add 10 new herbicides to its chemical arsenal in its war against established forest, beach and wetland plants. What is most disturbing is this proposal is trying to fly under the banner of “restoration”. Before we even try to understand what “native” actually is, lets first look at why plants and animals thrive or invade where they had not previously.
Plants and animals have migrated into and out of geographic locations since the earth was made. They must move to find the climate conditions to which they are adapted. Habitats once suitable to individual and co-existent species become less so after relevant resources are used up or climate conditions change. Species either die off, evolve, or migrate into new areas once vital nutrients diminish. Until rather recently, there really was no distinction between a non-native or native species. The exact definition of “native“ to this day remains rather elusive in regard to the actual time required for that distinction in a particular geographic location.
Take the horse for instance. Fossil records indicate that the horse’s initial evolution occurred in what is now North America. Then there became an unexplained gap of fossil records before the Spanish people reintroduced them. Once they re-arrived the horse once again thrived on the open plains. As we know the horse became a critical part of Native American culture.
If we believe the common understanding that Native Americans had crossed over the Bering straight into lands once unknown to human beings, are they indeed more native than those that came in ships a few thousand years later? Are they more native than the horse that by all accounts had been here first? I don’t have an answer to those questions.
Back to National Parks proposal to up the chemical ante to rid our public lands of non-native plants. When and where exactly does a plant become “native”? There is not an answer to that question in this document. Are we supposed to give our blessing to assault those tagged with that label (as well as the surrounding plants and animals) with indiscriminate poisons before that question is answered? Often targeted species are tougher and more resistant to herbicides and require higher concentrations to kill. In other words, there is usually a lot of collateral damage.
Species of all types can hitchhike not only on wind and ocean currents but also on hiking boots and airplanes. Are we naive enough to think we can stop the tides or the winds or the migrations of birds, animals and humans with toxic cocktails? Have we reached a point where we actually believe naturalized plants and animals are more harmful to habitats than poisons?
Monsanto seems to think so. At least that is what they are banking on with this proposal. Make no mistake, they have worked very hard to develop this market. It is unfortunate they seem to have already convinced our public land managers we once thought and hoped, were more environmentally aware.
A public meeting will be held at the Humboldt Area Foundation 363 Indianola Rd, Bayside on Wednesday, November 8 at 6:30- 8:30 pm.
https://www.nps.gov/redw/learn/news/invasiveplantpublicreview2017.htm You can also call Stassia Samuels, (707) 465-7784.
[See more about the meeting hosted by the National Park Service here.]