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Old 01-11-2011, 09:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

The TPWD is governed by a commission of ten folks appointed by the governor. Here is a link to a page introducing the current members of the commission.

Today I sent each of the commissioners a letter with the following text:


Quote:
I am writing to you to ask you help me with an issue caused by TPWD. You see, I am an aquarium hobbyist. Specifically, I collect and grow aquatic plants in closed aquaria. I am one of hundreds people with an interest in this in Texas. But I feel sure that there are many other constituencies that will also be affected by this.

During the last legislative session 81HB3391 was passed. This law's primary purpose was to reauthorize the department for an additional twelve years. But buried in this mundane legislation are some far reaching legislative mandates. Section 14 of that legislation Requires the TPWD to create a list of exotic aquatic plants that may be imported and possessed within Texas without a permit. The Section establishes that a person may not import or possess an exotic aquatic plant that is not on the approved list without a permit.

I'm sure that this sounds reasonable, but let me explain some of the ramifications. The legislation requires the development of a "White List". Texas has historically had a "Black List" of forbidden aquatic plants. To my knowledge, there hasn't been any real objection to that. And certainly, hobbyists like myself want to preserve the ecology of our State. But a White List is a bureaucratic overreach which says that no plant can be brought into the state without the approval of the powers that be. I have been observing this process for the past year. I know that lists consisting of several hundreds of species have been submitted for review and that a mere handful of species have been added to the White List.

The department has neither the expertise nor resources to perform this function at any kind of acceptable level. Our conversations with the department have been very frustrating as it has become clear that they cannot implement this in a reasonable way. Additionally, there are numerous technical problems with the law and proposed regulations. But they pale compared to the fundamental problem of the White List.

So, the law is the law. And it mandates a "White List." When asked where this law came from, staffers in TPWD acknowledged that they had proposed it. I am asking you to please support an amendment to the legislation in the current session that reverts back to a "Black List" of banned plants. Further, until that can be accomplished, I am asking that you direct the department to mitigate its draconian rules to be as permissive as possible, which is a requirement of the legislation.

Please know that Texas in the only one of the fifty states to approach this issue with a White List rather than a Black List. This approach seems to be at odds with the conservative/libertarian tendencies so valued by Texans. Can I count on you to reply to my letter with an expression of support? I will use this to petition the legislature to make the required changes.

Thanks in advance for your help.
I encourage you to reach out an touch someone. Please DO NOT cut and paste my letter. They will see through that in a heartbeat. Put your own thoughts into your letter in a reasonable way.
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Old 01-11-2011, 09:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Awesome! I will work on this tonight.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

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Originally Posted by Ekrindul View Post
Awesome! I will work on this tonight.

x2.................. now to think will out rambling with joelish.
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Old 01-11-2011, 02:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Very well thought out letter. It helps me understand the situation better
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Old 01-11-2011, 05:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

People if you can please send a letter to these folks. The more letters they get the better. Send one from you, your spouse, your brother, uncle, best friend.... You get the message!! You can write it. Have them sign it.



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Old 01-11-2011, 07:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

My 2 cents turned into a quarter. I thought I'd share my letter to hopefully encourage others of us to join in. I focused primarily upon the economic problems created by the law, the fact that our hobby serves the same interests as TWPD in many respects and that HB3391 is irresponsible legislation as it does a poor job of defining compliance and non-compliance.

Quote:
I am writing to you in regard to House Bill 3391 that was passed into law during the last legislative session. As an aquarium hobbyist, I find aspects of this law very distressing, and believe it will prove detrimental to our state's economy and have adverse effects for the aquarium hobby in general.

The importance of the aquarium hobby is varied. Economically, its impact is enormous. From large corporate pet stores to small business owners whose entire livelihoods rely upon servicing hobbyists' needs; from fish breeders and plant nurseries and manufacturers of aquarium products and chemicals, and service professionals who maintain aquariums for private and public customers. The impact upon our economy cannot be understated.

Also, there is a positive relationship to be found between encouraging and promoting the aquarium hobby and protecting our natural habitats and waterways within the state of Texas. As our society becomes more and more urban, the importance of understanding and appreciating nature will decline among a public that is more and more removed from it. Educationally, the aquarium hobby is responsible for enduring environmental issues and the appreciation of natural habitats to a public that otherwise would be ignorant of such concerns. Throughout the country, there are now many societies dedicated to aquatic horticulture, who are of great benefit to agencies such as the TWPD in that they raise awareness of invasive species and their proper containment.

House Bill 3391 seeks to protect Texas waterways from invasive aquatic plants by restricting import and possession of such plants to native species and an approved “white” list of exotic aquatic plants. All other exotic aquatic plants are restricted without a permit. In the past, the state has relied upon a “black” list, which stated specifically which plants were banned from import or possession within the state. In fact, Texas will be the only state not utilizing a “black” list once HB3391 takes effect.

Essentially, HB3391 will put Texas aquatic nursery businesses (such as Nelson Water Gardens and Nursery of Katy, TX) at a competitive disadvantage as they will not be able to offer even a portion of the selection of competitors from other states. This will decrease selection for hobbyist consumers within the state as well, who value creative design and individuality as gardeners, which will undoubtedly lead to some lack of interest in such pursuits. The ire that many hobbyist feel over the intrusive nature of HB3391 will also serve to undermine the aquarium hobby, for we as a group feel we have our place in protecting the environment and educating others about the fragility and beauty of nature; and yet this law is a slap in the face to our efforts over the years.

Protecting Texas waterways from invasive aquatic species is of great import, and every effort should be made to protect our natural environment. However, the measures detailed in HB3391 are too drastic and far reaching. The adoption of a “white” list is untested at this point and there is no proof such a system would prove to be any more effective than that of the standard model of “black” lists utilized by every other state. Already, the system has proven to be far too confusing as has been evident in the TWPD's meetings with the public over the last year. Defining which aquatic plants are deemed to be native has not been resolved despite repeated requests for this information. This leaves a large gray area that will inevitably lead to some non-compliance with the law. The burden of defining the law should not fall upon the shoulders of the public; that is why we have legislators. The concept underlying this “white” list, however, is doing just that: leaving the burden of defining compliance too much upon the shoulders of the public and businesses.

We ask that you return to the standard model of defining, clearly and concisely, which exotic aquatic plants are banned from import and possession within the state of Texas, through the use of a “black” list, as every other state does. While the use of a “white” list seems logical on the surface, the fact that its success is unproven, and its ramifications are obviously detrimental to our economy, the use of the more clearly defined and less intrusive “black” list is the more pragmatic path. It is also more responsible and proper legislatively as it does not unduly place the burden of defining compliance upon the public, as does the “white” list in its current state.

I hope I can count on your support to amend HB3391 in such a way that the law still protects the waterways and natural habitats of the state of Texas, while protecting the interests of the aquarium hobby.

Thanks in advance for your assistance.
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:14 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

These are great letters! But let me stress that you don't need to write a long, careful response. A simple letter objecting to the proposed regulations is also effective. Sheer numbers make a big difference!
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Great letter



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Old 01-12-2011, 06:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Also, here is a website you can go to to find out who your representatives are in Texas. Contact them as well via email, phone, fax, letter... They all have an influence on HB3391.

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml
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Old 01-14-2011, 06:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

If anyone else submits a letter please don't forget to add a blurb about hiring Phil Edwards, currently of Lewisville, to work on this project. I need a job!
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