There were between 50-100 people at the Fort Worth TWPD public meeting last night. All but one, who spoke was against this law as it currently stands. Two or three said they agreed with a white list, but not this law. Most were against the white list and thought the black list was the way it should be handled.
Some points people shared:
1. The main way plants were spread ie, boats and such is not addressed in this legislation. Bringing new plants in through ponds and retailers is not the way these invasive plants are spread.
2. TWPD can't identify specific plants even as they compile this list. There are some plants on their denied list that are naturalized in Texas. There are plants that are not on their denied list that are on the Federal Noxious Weed list. (Rhubarb is on their denied list. No more pies folks!)
3. How do they expect their game wardens to be able ID plants when they try to visit places for inspection. One business owner spoke of her experience of showing a warden books and the plants in questions to help him ID what he wanted to fine her for. He realized he had mis-ID'd her inventory. What a nightmare since now there are many less blacklisted plants and they don't even know them!
4. They couldn't enforce the black list with few plants on it so how will they enforce the white list with many more plants on it?
5. They expect the citizenry to do their weed assessment reports in order to get the plants added to the white list. They came up with this criterion and now want to put this job on the citizens. Really now?! How many plants do you think will be added if citizens have to try to do their job that they have been unable to do?
They have had submitted to them 2000 plants. Less than 10% (200) have been approved. They have denied 3% (60) plants. That accounts for 18% of the submissions. They have removed from consideration 5% (99) plants submitted because of "insufficient information, invalid name or mostly terrestrial. [One example of invalid name is Cryptocornye balansea. They have said its a variety of C. crispatula, yet C. crispatula is not on their prohibited list or approved list. If a plant is not on any list it become illegal. Insufficient information is self explanatory. They can't possibly know about every plant so it's automatically banned. The category mostly terrestrial is interesting because they have Mexican petunia on their banned list and I've only ever seen it growing in yards.
Why some work and others don't is not understood?] What happened to the other 82% of plants submitted?
6. This legislation of "white list" has been passed WITHOUT public knowledge. While they have held hearings after the fact about what plants to be added the white list law is there. Few have even known about the hearing they have held.
7. This white list will put retailers (growers and retailers) out of business. Many businesses have prepared for the upcoming season and will severely hurt or destroyed because they will have to destroy their inventory. Even if they could survive this the future with such a small approved list of approved plants they could have enough sales to stay in business.
8. While ponds are open vessels, aquariums in homes do meet the criterion of the law for keeping prohibited species yet they are still going to be be banned from keeping exotic species.
9. TWPD recognizes all the problems as stated above but they still "are going to try". What sense does that make? They know they can't ID them, they know they can't test them all, they know their model assessment is flawed, they know they can't enforce them, they know citizens won't know what plants are acceptable and they go forward?... unreasonable!!
10. TWPD has refused to share how they came to the plants scores on their assessments. They said it's on someone else's computer system and they can't release it to the public. They said they aren't intentionally hiding it.
11. They said whoever is using the plants has the burden of proof for ID and will be held responsible for keeping the plant. It doesn't matter if people think the plant is correctly identified.
12. The permit amount of $263 per year stands FOR EVERYONE.
13. Citizens do not want to be put into the position of being illegal, rather by intent or through ignorance. With the law as it is written, it will be impossible to avoid this. Try as one might to comply, you just can't know all the plants Latin names and or identify them. Even TWPD can't.
14. The economic impact on the aquatic business has not been considered. This encompasses the small mom and pop nursery, to the pet store, the landscapers, to the big box stores that sell pond equipment.
15. The conservation and reintroduction of endangered plant and animals through controlled aquaria has not been considered. One can't try to keep and breed species if you can't recreate habitat.
16. There will be a public hearing in AUSTIN in front of the legislative commission where you can make comments. This link tells about the session. http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/business...ublic_comment/ YOU NEED TO ATTEND and speak up. This is the meeting that is YEAH or NAY FOR IT GOING INTO LAW.
I'm sure I have missed some points brought forward but this is what I can recall as I write this. The italicized words are mine. If others have more to add, please post. WE HAVE TO CONTACT OUR STATE SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES. This is our only hope. The TWPD will not voluntarily give up their power.
Those of you in other states, this will be a precedent set for this to come into your state. Please encourage your friends and relative in TX to contact their congress people. You can find sample letters here: