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Re: Warning!!!!!

  • Subject: Re: Warning!!!!!
  • From: "mjhatfield" <mjhatfield@oneota.org>
  • Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2001 15:52:24 -0500 (CDT)

I am very interested in the current subject. In Iowa, USA, we have a T&E
species List. I have growing at my farm a T&E species. It is a prairie
plant. By law I cannot have any part of this plant in my possession. I'm in
the process of reconstructing a prairie. It is against the law for me to
gather seeds of this plant, (growing on my property), propagate it and then
plant these plants into my reconstruction. Lucky for me, Iowa has zero
enforcement. Not that I would ever break a law, and certainly I always drive
the speed limit.

But I have to ask.

With all this concern about the destruction of the worlds rainforests, are
we thinking/acting on concerns for habitat destruction/ecological demise or
are we thinking/acting as plant collectors, wishing not to see our favorite
plants disappear?

I was on the Endangered Species List for a while but it seemed that their
concern was for growing rare species, in the name of conservation. When I
asked what their local county/state endangered species were, for the most
part, they didn't even realize there were any. It was then that I decided
the list was more about growing something rare, something that they yearned
for, that they collected, than about biodiversity and ecology. I

I realize that rainforests are incredibly biologically diverse. I know they
need saving. But is that which is being done to the rainforests any
different than what has been done in our own back yards, in the past and
continuing today? If our concerns for habitat destruction are legitimate,
what are we doing to save and restore habitat in our own backyards? And, are
we helping those organizations that are truly working to save tracts of

I live in Iowa, in the middle of the USA. This is the most biologically
altered state in the entire US. We WERE the tall grass prairie state having
had more of this habitat than any other state. 99.9% of our prairie is gone.
The soils of this lost habitat make fantastic farmland (1/2 of which has
eroded in the last 120 years), growing corn to feed the beef that makes the
steaks and hamburgers that we eat (my apologies to those of you who are
vegetarian or vegan). In the process of changing the landscape, we have also
logged every forest in the state and destroyed 94% of our wetlands and as a
result, in part, we had the disastrous 1993 floods of the Mississippi River
and the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that continues to grow every year.

There has been a State push to build a fake rainforest, as a teaching tool
(and as a tourist trap). For the price of this "attraction" all the
remaining native prairie in the state could be bought and protected with
monies left that could actually buy and protect some real rainforest. But
that wouldn't involve enough bells and whistles.

When I was lucky enough to visit Panama with 2 IAS members, I was the
Pollyanna on the trip. They tried to educate me.
I lamented the destruction I observed of lowland rainforest knowing that
this land would be used to grow coffee and bananas, both of which I consume.
I also wondered what right did I have to think that this should not happen.
It is the same thing that happened in Iowa 130 years ago, and continues
today. (We recently had a 1-acre virgin prairie come up for sale. The county
fathers refused to sell to the highest bidder, a conservation organization,
but rather sold it to the adjacent farmer. He plowed it up, planted
monoculture corn, which sells for less than the cost to plant it, and is
then subsidized by the taxpayer, polluting the water in the process.) If a
country with our standard of living, our competitive over consumption, can't
protect out last remaining native lands, how can we expect countries
struggling to feed their people to save theirs?

There's so much I don't understand.

MJ Hatfield

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