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Sweet post! I guess dealing in what I deal with it never occurred to me that the rules still apply when I get home and play in the aquariums off the clock.
 

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With Hygro. polysperma and others so listed it is illegal to transport them and to ship them across state lines. The main thing with plants like this, such as water hyacinth, just make sure that if you have too much or are simply tired of it you destroy the plant (trash it) instead of releasing it into a water or wetland (or anywhere for that matter). Also be aware of state laws. Ie, it is illegal to posses water hyacinth and the Cryptocoryne that's growing in San Marcos River (not supposed to collect specimens) in Texas, much less trade and ship it. That said, a warden is not going to ticket you for having it in your stock pond or home aquarium...just use good judgement (or alternative spelling...hee hee hee...just kidding...). On the plus side, the two plants I just mentioned for Texas are currently under relative control compared to a few years ago.

BTW - I have dozens of Hygro. polysperma cuttings for sale if you're interested (I've had way too much coffee today)!!! Hah!!!
 

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Thanks for posting the lists, Tex Gal! That very helpful information to have in this hobby.
 

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Great post, I like the sites, good info to know. I do agree with Dielectric, some plants are for sale on several websites that are on the list.
 

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As some food for thought, the phrasing I've always read is that it's illegal to trade/ship/transport noxious weeds (NW's) across state lines - the way I read & understand it, doesn't that mean that if you have a plant that's brought within state borders before its added to the noxious weed list, aren't you essentially free to cultivate it as you please (as long as you don't intentionally introduce/naturalize it into the wild) and ship/trade it within your state borders?

From a more legal-ese perspective (i.e. prepare for long-winded blather), punishing you for possession of a live plant obtained before its recognition as a noxious weed would be, essentially, a violation of the ban on ex post facto laws (U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 9) - or, in other words, you can't be guilty of committing a criminal act if the act wasn't considered criminal when you committed it.

Furthermore, since the U.S. Bill of Rights (Amendment V) protects citizens from being deprived of life, liberty, or property (i.e. a plant you bought) without due process of law (i.e. as a result of a criminal or civil court verdict), and further prevents the confiscation of private property for public use without "just compensation" (this is usually the basis for imminent domain situations, but the prevention of spreading an invasive species is, very arguably, a "public use" of a privately owned posession), the state/federal government theoretically can't confiscate or destroy your legally owned plants without paying you their fair market value.

Wow, that was probably way too technical and all, but in a basic list format:
1. You can't be punished for buying plants that are legally tradeable, even if they're outlawed later on.
2. The government isn't allowed to take your stuff without paying you for it.
3. You have the right to do as you see fit with legally-obtained (non-animal) property (except in scenarios where possession is, in itself, illegal - i.e. narcotics laws) while it's on your private land.
4. A ban on trading NW's across state borders doesn't appear, IMO, to stop you from trading it within state borders.
5. Thus, once you buy/receive/collect a plant, even if it's later declared a NW, there would appear to be no reason you can't grow it, as long as you don't send/sell it someplace you're not allowed to.

I could be wrong about that, in which case, please point me to any contradictory legal reference so I can read it and reevaluate my understanding, but from what I see, that's the situation as it stands in U.S. law. (But then again, I'm not a lawyer - just a fairly smart college kid - so take what I've said with whatever grains of salt you deem appropriate.)

On another note, for the life of me I don't really see the point in declaring anything as invasive/noxious on a national level. Given the wide range of habitats, climates, etc. in this nation, really these things should be left up to states to decide IMO. I see no reason that trading H. polysperma between, say, CT (where I live) and RI or NY (since they have the same approximate climate) needs to be illegal - as Dielectric said, it would never winter over here and therefore can't establish itself invasively. The same can be said about piranha - even if one were released, it's not like it would survive more than a few months, nor would it be able to breed enough in one season to have a swarm "attack" someone (I won't even go into how that stereotype is so much nonsense) - so why does the gov't feel the need to outlaw selling them?

And my third (and final) point to make, in the case of state invasive/noxious plants, the existence of laws preventing people from collecting them where they've invaded (as mudboots mentioned) is really, really, downright stupid as far as I'm concerned. If the government considers them a problem 'cause they're not native, wouldn't it be a great control method to encourage as much private harvesting as they can - especially for commercial, out-of-state trade purposes? I mean, from any reasonable perspective, all that happens to collected invasive specimens is that they end up leaving the wild population - whether they're kept contained indoors or sold to people in another state, the end result is that they can't spread/propagate in state lands if they're all removed. Then the state gov't doesn't even have to pay anyone to get rid of them o.0' It seems like a win-win situation no matter how I look at it. People get to obtain plants they want, commercial harvesters can make money, and the plants aren't the public's problem anymore. Maybe pass a few regulations to prevent the disruption/disturbance of native species in the same habitats, or whatever, but by all means they should practically be begging us to help get rid of their invasive crypts and hygros and whatever.

...Bottom line is that bureaucracies are really, really stupid sometimes. And now I'll shut up and go find something else to ramble about.

-Amanda
 

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Well said, in summary, Amanda. I'm not sure about the correctness of your legal arguments. I think it displays a youthful, refreshing ignorance about how powerful our government is, and what it can, and cannot do, as governed by the constitution. Consider the case, a few years, ago where the government took away a private citizen's land, and gave it to another "private" entity, claiming it would benefit the community. That went to the supreme court and the land was seized. Turns out, due to the economic slow down, that private corporation never did use the land- but the previous owner lost it just the same.

We think logically, bureaucrats, many times, just throw legislation at things, without thinking it to it's logical end.
 

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Well said, in summary, Amanda. I'm not sure about the correctness of your legal arguments. I think it displays a youthful, refreshing ignorance about how powerful our government is, and what it can, and cannot do, as governed by the constitution. Consider the case, a few years, ago where the government took away a private citizen's land, and gave it to another "private" entity, claiming it would benefit the community. That went to the supreme court and the land was seized. Turns out, due to the economic slow down, that private corporation never did use the land- but the previous owner lost it just the same.

We think logically, bureaucrats, many times, just throw legislation at things, without thinking it to it's logical end.
Very true - I could point to the new health care bill as another excellent example of things they don't really have jurisdiction over but pass laws on anyway (nowhere in the Constitution does it say anything about Congress having a say in health care, but it does say that the legislative subjects not given specifically to Congress or denied to the states is, in fact, under the jurisdiction of the states). Also, a few towns over from here and a few years back I recall an imminent domain case where they wanted to give residential land to a private company that wanted to build a mall, claiming that the jobs created and overall economic boost it would bring was a valid public interest. I believe that, too, went to SCOTUS and was upheld (come to think of it, we might very well be referencing the same case...). That said, I'm pretty sure the former owners of the property still received monetary compensation for the property.

Which, ultimately, was my point - not that the government can't take your stuff away, but that they theoretically have to give you something in return if they do. Extra emphasis on the theoretically bit. I was sort of just theorizing in general about what, according to the fancy historical documents, should be - not what necessarily is. Believe me, I've seen enough of government agencies doing whatever they darn well please in violation of the laws to last me a lifetime. And, I probably have enough lifetime left that I'll see more (unfortunately).

I do, however, stand by the ex post facto thing. They really can't fine you or punish you for the possession of a plant that was obtained legally, because no crime was committed - until and unless they pass a law that specifically prohibits continued possession in and of itself, i.e. the aforementioned narcotics laws, or Cuban cigars (as a result of trade embargoes). I'm not sure whether such laws have yet been applied to invasive/noxious plants, but seeing as no one's out there finish people for all the invasive burning bushes you see in our local landscapes, I'm guessing there's no law against having the plant after the fact.

It would be interesting to see if there's any legal precedent with regard to aquarium plants, but the industry is so closed and the public at large so ambivalent toward it that I doubt there's many cases of such. I suppose if they ever do take action, though, all us hobbyists could get together and start a class-action suit, if only for the sake of seeing what happens. ^.^'

Ultimately, though, what it likely comes down to is the fact that the USDA isn't searching through every box of plants we mail around, and probably doesn't even really care what's in them - I think they're more worried about large-scale, commercial distribution than hobbyists trading their extra stems, lol.

-Amanda
 
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